ESKASONI, N.S. — An Indigenous girl missing for more than a week has been found safe with the man she was travelling with after police located the pair in an isolated part of Nova Scotia, police said Saturday.
The 14-year-old girl, a member of We’koqma’q Mi’kmaq First Nation, was last seen at a gas station in Eskasoni around 4 p.m. on Aug. 13. She had earlier went missing from her foster home and was believed to be travelling with a 47-year-old man she knew.
The force said their air services unit spotted a fire in an isolated location in Canoe Lake in Cape Breton around 11:30 p.m. Friday.
“The RCMP officers made it to that area and were able to locate the missing girl and the man,” said Cpl. Lisa Croteau.
The force said both individuals were taken into custody and the girl was later released.
Croteau said no charges had been laid as of Saturday morning.
“It’s still too early, the investigation is ongoing. Once we are able to speak to people and get more information, we will advise if charges are laid,” she said.
Police said Thursday they received new information that the pair was spotted near Canoe Lake on Wednesday night on a green ATV.
The RCMP has been heavily criticized for issuing a localized alert for the girl a week after she disappeared.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada said police did not act with enough urgency to find her.
The association said the girl appeared to be in danger. We’koqma’q First Nation councillors had expelled the man from the community, the association said, because he posed a threat to safety and security.
Thousands signed a petition to have the RCMP issue an Amber Alert, but Croteau said the force stands by its decision not to issue that type of alert, saying the case did not meet the provincial threshold because police did not believe the girl was abducted.
The We’koqma’q Chief and Council had offered a $5,000 reward in an effort to spur information that led to the girl’s whereabouts.