November 19, 2018

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Desperate parents looking for answers

Lac Brochet man, missing since mid-June, was last seen in Thompson

ANDREW RYAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Jeanette and Tom Shaoullie with Chief Joe Antsanen of the Northlands Denesuline First Naition.</p>

ANDREW RYAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Jeanette and Tom Shaoullie with Chief Joe Antsanen of the Northlands Denesuline First Naition.

Desperate to find their missing son, Jeanette and Tom Shaoullie travelled more than 1,000 kilometres to Winnipeg to make a province-wide appeal Tuesday.

“We need him back. Whoever has information, please come forward,” Jeanette Shaoullie said as she struggled for composure at a news conference alongside her husband.

Russell Adrian Hyslop, 26, was last seen June 19 in Thompson. He had flown in for a medical appointment from his home in Lac Brochet — one of the most remote First Nations in Manitoba — and was seeking addictions treatment for drug use.

Initially, family thought he’d gone hiking on a local trail, and reported him missing the day after he was last seen. Since then, searchers have combed the northern Manitoba city for him and RCMP have moved forward with an investigation.

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Desperate to find their missing son, Jeanette and Tom Shaoullie travelled more than 1,000 kilometres to Winnipeg to make a province-wide appeal Tuesday.

"We need him back. Whoever has information, please come forward," Jeanette Shaoullie said as she struggled for composure at a news conference alongside her husband.

Russell Adrian Hyslop, 26, was last seen June 19 in Thompson. He had flown in for a medical appointment from his home in Lac Brochet — one of the most remote First Nations in Manitoba — and was seeking addictions treatment for drug use.

Initially, family thought he’d gone hiking on a local trail, and reported him missing the day after he was last seen. Since then, searchers have combed the northern Manitoba city for him and RCMP have moved forward with an investigation.

"We are exhausted. We are tired, and we’re running out of options where to look anymore in Thompson," Jeanette Shaoullie told reporters Tuesday at the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak offices. The couple was surrounded by community members and family from Lac Brochet, including the local chief. RCMP officers stood by in a show of support.

The parents spoke frankly about Hyslop’s state of mind, and the family’s concerns.

"I believe my son was going through a lot, and he was ready to go into treatment," Jeanette Shaoullie said. That he vanished instead doesn’t square with the fact he had an appointment to book himself in for drug rehab in Thompson, she said.

Tom Shaoullie described the close relationship the pair shared, harvesting off the land and fishing. Hyslop is experienced in the bush, his idea of fun is to shoot the rapids in his boat near Lac Brochet (some 1,000 km northwest of Winnipeg), and he is the father of three children.

At the same time, both parents spoke about disturbing changes in their son’s personality, which they blamed on illegal drug use.

"Since he started doing drugs, he’s pushed away... and he started spending a lot of time in the bush by himself," Tom Shaoullie said.

Their last contact was on Facebook, the day before Hyslop disappeared.

"Something isn’t right and I want to make sure my son is safe. We are appealing to all Manitobans, especially those in Thompson to keep an eye out for Russell. If you are a mother or a father, I’m sure you can imagine how hard it is not to know where your loved one is," Jeanette Shaoullie said in a news statement released earlier Tuesday.

"Our family needs closure," she later told reporters.

"We are very concerned, heartbroken, (over) our missing band member. We’ve been searching for him since mid-June," Northlands Denesuline Chief Joe Antsanen said.

Corporate sponsors have stepped forward, as well as dozens of community members.

Perimeter Aviation LP, a major northern air carrier, provided 20 tickets for community members to fly the 500 km to Thompson and take part in ground searches over the last three weeks. On Tuesday, community divers were searching the Burntwood River in Thompson.

"We’ve run out of clues. And we’re running out of time, but we don’t want to give up on Russell," the chief said.

The RCMP are conducting an investigation, according to Cpl. Laura LeDrew, head of the D Division headquarters unit for missing and exploited persons. She attended the event to support the family, but did not make an official statement.

"It’s being handled as a missing-persons case at the moment," she said.

Hyslop was last seen near the Thompson train station. He had told his aunt, whose home he had been staying at since his arrival three or four days earlier, he was going for a walk.

Lac Brochet residents have mounted past searches as far south as Winnipeg for missing people. Northlands Denesuline band councillor Richard Tssessaze, 37, was in Winnipeg for a meeting when he vanished without a trace in 2009.

Anyone with information about Hyslop can contact Thompson RCMP at 204-677-6911 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Alexandra Paul

Alexandra Paul
Reporter

Alexandra is a veteran news reporter who has covered stories for the Winnipeg Free Press since 1987. She held the medical beat for nearly 17 years, and today specializes in coverage of Indigenous-related issues. She is among the most versatile journalists on the paper’s staff.

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History

Updated on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 at 6:59 PM CDT: Adds photo of missing man.

7:18 PM: Fixes photo caption.

11:34 PM: Fixes typo

July 11, 2018 at 6:07 AM: Final

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