The sister of a man who went missing on a Manitoba First Nation nearly two weeks ago says her heart is broken after her brother was found dead by volunteers on Tuesday.
“I feel like my heart has been torn into pieces — into a million pieces,” said Joy Muskego of Cross Lake.
Her brother, Kelly Harrison Thunderchild Muskego, 36, was last seen leaving a house party in the community on Feb. 8.
At least 100 volunteers, police and search-and-rescue teams have been scoured the area looking for him, said Cathy Merrick, chief of Pimicikimak (Cross Lake) Cree Nation, which is located about 530 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
Muskego was found dead around 2 p.m. Tuesday, not far from where he had last been seen, Merrick said. His body was discovered on a Ski-Doo trail often used as a shortcut through the woods just outside the community.
Joy Muskego said volunteers found her brother covered in snow. Afterwards, her family and the searchers gathered in the spot to pray.
“The whole community were concerned and worried about him. His friends were helping out with the search also. They didn’t want to quit,” she said. “They didn’t want to stop until they found him, they said.”
Joy Muskego said her little brother was humble man — just like their dad, who is an art teacher at the local school.
Muskego himself was also an artist, and a talented one, she said. He often painted images rooted in Indigenous culture and sold some of his paintings around the area.
“He had that talent as a painter. But he also learned it from my dad.”
He was a loving father to four children himself, she said.
‘Makes us proud,’ Chief says
Earlier this week, Joy Muskego told CBC News she last saw her brother at a celebration with friends and family after he was released from jail on Feb. 6. He left the party without shoes or his jacket.
Muskego’s disappearance brought the community together, Merrick said. Dozens of volunteers helped RCMP and emergency crews search through deep snow and frigid weather day-in and day-out before finding his body. The effort made her proud.
“That brings a whole family together. It brings a community together, and it was the community that came together to be able to provide that service of searching for this young man,” she said.
“It was really touching to my heart to be able to see young men out there searching for their relative, and to be searching for their friend.”
Joy Muskego was integral to the search efforts, Merrick added.
“She was a very fundamental person to be where she was at and to be doing what she was doing, despite [that] it was her brother they were looking for,” she said.
There is no word yet on the cause of death.
— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) February 14, 2018