The first of two wakes planned for a Saskatchewan boy found dead after an 81-day search was held Wednesday night.
Frank Young was reported missing from the front yard of his Red Earth Cree Nation home on April 19.
Following a more than two-month search, his body was found on Saturday in the Carrot River, which runs through the community.
The wake began with a Grand Entry, led by the chiefs of Red Earth and Shoal Lake Cree Nations and Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Rosanne Archibald — who made the trip to attend.
Carrot River RCMP Sgt. Richard Tonge, who was heavily involved in the search for the boy, also walked towards the front of the line dressed in his ceremonial red serge uniform.
The dignitaries were all leading a procession that included Young’s preschool classmates. The children wore matching blue shirts bearing an image of Young’s face.
The local firefighters who played an integral role in the search for the boy, and eventually found him, carried a small casket into the Red Earth gymnasium where the memorial event was held.
“There were many people that were impacted, there are many people that were touched throughout Canada,” Red Earth Chief Fabian Head told those attending in person and the many others watching a Facebook livestream.
“Eighty-one days that we searched, 81 days we did not give up and 81 days we did not give up hope.”
Red Earth councillor Zachary Whitecap recalled when the search crew brought Young’s body to shore.
“When they brought little Frank to the dock I was there,” Whitecap said.
“It was emotional as a leader to see the little body that you have been searching for, but all the prayers that have been coming from all over, you really helped us in so many ways,” Whitecap said.