The family of a five-year-old Saskatchewan boy whose body was found 81 days after he was reported missing said Tuesday he will be buried this week.
RCMP said Frank Young was located Saturday in the Carrot River, about two kilometres downstream from where he was last seen playing on the Red Earth Cree Nation in April.
Frank's grandmother Teresa Whitecap, the matriarch of the family, said they have have been participating in ceremonies and prayers to prepare for his burial on Friday.
"I come from a very large family circle and our circle was broke when Frank went missing," Whitecap said Tuesday. "Each and every one of us are very hurt, heartbroken, knowing that we will not see Frank again."
She remembered her grandson as someone who loved nursery school and would dance before class started. She said he'd spend his days playing with his siblings and laughing with his large family.
Whitecap said community members have travelled by boat to the site where he was found and tied white and blue ribbons around trees.
She said white represents the boy's pureness and innocence, while blue symbolizes his favourite cartoon, PAW Patrol.
"Frank's chapter is closed because he has moved on to the spirit world, and the next chapter of his life will start...as we prepare for his final resting place," Whitecap said.
"That will be the second chapter of his life, when we say our final goodbye (on Friday)."
RCMP Sgt. Richard Tonge said Frank was found in the river among a tangled mass of fallen trees. He said it was an area that had been searched before using sonar.
"The water is high, so there's not very defined banks to the river right now. Trees have fallen into the river and it's occurred for years, so there's quite a bit of deadfall," Tonge said.
"Despite our best efforts and using cutting edge technology, nature is powerful. Even in 2022, sometimes our technology cannot overcome nature and it took as long as it did until Frank was discovered."
Chief Marcel Head of neighbouring Shoal Lake Cree Nation said elders and knowledge keepers had guided search crews to that location in recent weeks.
"We hold every member so dear in our hearts. Frank, he was important to the community," Head said.
"I know we had expectations to have Frank returned home safely. But as we always refer to our God, he had other plans for little Frank."
RCMP said foul play is not suspected in the death but officers continue to investigate.
"Since April 19 we've discovered no evidence that is suspicious in regards to the death of Frank. Upon examination at the scene, there was no obvious trauma," said Tonge.
"Frank's clothing was intact, and everything we saw was consistent with Frank being in the river for a considerable period."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 12, 2022.