A month after she was last seen, Shawnee Morita Inyallie’s family are organizing a second search for the missing Hope woman and appealing for details still not known about her disappearance.
Inyallie, a 29-year-old Indigenous woman missing from the Hope area since July 11, is the subject of an ongoing Hope RCMP investigation as well as several search efforts by family and community members. Inyallie’s aunt Linda Kay Peters said the family still does not know some basic facts surrounding her disappearance, such as where and when she was last seen and what she was wearing when she went missing.
A 36-person search from Agassiz to Hope along Highway 7 Aug. 12 did not yield any further clues about Inyallie, however, searchers identified articles of clothing and a cabin to an RCMP officer present at the search.
Peters said a wider search of the Fraser River and riverbanks from Hope to Mission is happening Sept. 16 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The family is appealing to fishers with boats to take part, as well as organizations and individuals who have experience searching for missing persons.
Peters asked Hope Volunteer Search and Rescue for assistance in the last search, as well as the upcoming one. The organization said they were unable to help unless they were tasked out by the RCMP or the BC Ambulance Service.
“That’s the bottom line, we can’t get involved, it has to come from BC Ambulance or RCMP. So unless the RCMP find a reason or something on their radar, we do not get deployed,” said Noelle Hartt, media liaison officer with Hope search and rescue. “Our hearts go out to them, big time…so it’s really tough to be able to say that to (Peters).”
While Peters is thankful for the local searches conducted by Hope SAR and understands they are restricted by provincial regulations, she said the bureaucratic red tape and inability to get experts to assist in searching is frustrating.
“I don’t want to blame anybody, I know they’re trying to help but it’s just frustrating,” she said. “The fact that we can’t get professional help, I feel like we’re doing this alone.”
“We have to have a specific place to send (search and rescue). We have to have a report or a tip that is specific to a place, before we can activate SAR,” said Cpl. Mike Rail, RCMP Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment spokesperson. “To go and search the river without having a lead or a clue, we can’t do that.”
Rail said the RCMP have been conducting ground searches using search and rescue, helicopter, the Lower Mainland Integrated Police Dog Services (IPDS) and FLIR, a thermal imaging technology which detects body heat.
“Every place where we’ve received a tip or information, where Shawnee might be, we have gone there and it’s been searched. It’s been searched by SAR, it’s been searched by IPDS, there’s a complete and thorough search,” Rail said.
Inyallie is described by police as an aboriginal female with black hair and brown eyes, 163 centimetres tall (5’4) weighing 54 kilograms (120 pounds).
She has been known to spend time in the Fraser Valley communities of Agassiz, Chilliwack, Chawathil First Nation, Seabird Island Band and Hope. Inyallie also has family in Prince George.
Anyone with knowledge of her whereabouts is asked to contact Hope RCMP at 604-869-7750 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Rail implored the public to approach the RCMP directly, rather than posting information online where it can get lost and rumors can form.
“We are looking for that information and that could be the tip that we’ll pursue, that we investigate, that finds her,” he said. “Somebody knows where Shawnee is, and that somebody, that person — call us.”
The family has also been receiving donations of gas and grocery cards to help in their search. They are now looking for organizations and individuals with expertise searching for missing persons, to assist in the search from Hope to Mission. The family can be reached via Patrick Pete at 604 750 0589 or Linda Kay Peters at 604 750 0403.
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