Neskie Manuel's remains found

Published on May 11, 2011

Search and rescue teams continue to comb through the area around neskonlith lake for Neskie Manuel.

Neskonlith Indian Reserve — 

Update June 29, 2011

It is with a heavy heart that the family of Neskie Manuel announces that he has been found. Neskie's body was found on the shores of the South Thompson River downstream from Neskonlith Reserve in Secwepemc territory. He passed away from unknown causes.  

"We have lost our beloved son, brother, uncle, cousin, family and community member."

The family would like to thank all the people who helped search for Neskie or contributed to the search.  

"It is heartwarming to see and know how many people deeply care about Neskie and his family.  Your ongoing support for the 53 day search will never be forgotten.

This will continue to give us strength in this difficult time.  As unfortunate as it maybe our family is pleased to be making funeral  arrangements for our once missing family member."  

The confirmation of his identity, given today, June 29, is also his birthday.

UPDATE, DAY 7, May 15, 2011 - transition to Tmicw Search Team

Irene Billy did the opening prayer. Kukpi7 Wilson reported that we had over 100 people or more on the mountain searching for Neskie Manuel on Saturday, May 14, 2011. She stressed that there is even more urgent to finding Neskie now given the number of days he has been missing and that we need to be strategic in our transition.

Arthur Manuel thanked all the people who go up the mountain to take the time and energy to help them, including the people who came out with the horses (Upper Nicola and Okanagan Indian Band) and searched a large area. He said as a family and a father, we really have to look to our community, our people and our band to assist and stand collectively to deal with this carve out a way of dealing with situations regarding missing people.

Wayne Christian, Tribal Chair, Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, Chief of Splatsin, recalled the commitment of the National Chief Shawn Atleo (who was at Neskonlith on Wednesday) to bringing Neskie home. He said it is not uncommon for our people to go missing, including Aboriginal men. We have to build our own capacity and our own process in look out for our own in our own territory that we know better than others. In this case, we are doing a transition and since the federal government will be part of the decision-making and he will talk to the National Chief to ensure they do not leave us without the necessary resources.

Joan Phillip, Councillor Penticton Indian Band, said she had been for the day and realized what is required in terms of equipment and capacity and that it is important that we build support. Stewart Phillip, President Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) expressed his admiration and deep respect to all the people that were up on the mountain side who he had spent the day searching with making him realize how difficult this is. We live in a world where we need to rely on different entities, like the RCMP, but it is abundantly clear that we need to develop our own capacity, which will only happen if we apply the necessary pressure to Canada and the province and the highest echelons of the RCMP. For this transition period he called for internal organization and more and more people to come out.

Sergeant Troy Beauregard, Chase RCMP, said that the official search will continue for one more day and even though it may be suspended after, he recognizes the importance of liaising more and to stand collectively. The goal is to bring Neskie back. He also announced that weather permitting a FLIR (thermal imaging) will be out at 4 a.m. on Monday morning to search the area.

Rob, Search Manager for Shuswap Search and Rescue, said that there had been an unprecedented number of volunteers out today (more than he had ever seen in his 22 years of doing this) and they were able to cover an incredible amount of ground today and the experience with the area volunteers had been extremely positive. He said that people have built experience on the ground, and that they are ready to transfer more knowledge and have come up with strategies for next areas to search.

Mark D’Aquino, FN Emergency Services (FNES) said he was there to help transition to community taking over the search with the focus on bringing Neskie home safe and satisfying everyone in the community.

Following traditional protocol, Kukpi7 Wilson thanked the above speakers by presenting them with tokens of appreciation of the Secwepemc people, including little bundles with medicine.

TRANSITIONAL PLANNING:

Kukpi7 Wilson noted that a lot of people have also been searching other areas and it is important that we get their data back and onto maps. We have to be strategic about the next steps. Shawn Billy said that in the transition period we will need gear, like radios and walkie talkies for an ongoing search.

Arthur Manuel called for setting up a search committee and making sure we have all the areas that have been searched transferred onto a map. We really need to speak to people who have been out there. Also the search teams had eliminated some key areas like Neskonlith Creek. Possible people who can assist with coordination are: Art and Cora Anthony, Martha Manuel, John Anderson, Cathy Arnouse, Robin Billy, Teddy Dick, Lorne Sampson, Randy Sam and others.

Jennifer Dick requested a committee to coordinate volunteer searches and possibly moving the command centre. Dawn Morrison and Janice Billy suggested positions that different people could take on like: communications coordinator; volunteer recruitment; first aid and safety; transportation; mapping and strategy; food; funding and donations; and equipment.

Elder Minnie Kenoras said that we need action and called people to sign up as volunteers, set up a command structure and get together. Elder Sarah Deneault said she is grateful that young people who have been ready to help from beginning in the kitchen and doing things for the community. This is a good thing, we have to train and do things on our own as Secwepemc people. Kukpi7 Ignace said Neskie has brought the people together he has done a good job. 

Beverly Manuel said that Neskie is still out there and breathing and that a lot of people have been sending their support and messages from all over.

WE ARE IN TRANSITION NOW and the NESKONLITH INDIAN BAND WILL NEED MORE ASSISTANCE:

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Radios on the PEP channel or those that can be programmed into different channels (special frequency)

2 way radios (shorter distance)

Search ribbon – purple (or colour that stands out)

Safety vests (with pockets): orange colour – 100

Food

Horses

Quads

Money for Gas

Donations can be sent to the Neskonlith Indian Band, Box 318 Chase, BC V0E 1M0, Tel: (250) 679-3295, Fax: (250) 679-5306

(Updated: Friday May 13 at 4:30 p.m.)

Tomorrow - Saturday - is the last day that Shuswap Search and Rescue will be able to carry out their search efforts for Neskie Manuel.

“And with volunteers, who’ve been out there all week, now tiring, it’s definitely time to bring in new recruits,” said Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson.

“Saturday is a big day,” said Chief Wayne Christian (Tribal Spokesperson, Shuswap Nation Tribal Council). “There will be more trained searchers at the site. It’s vitally important to pair them up with volunteers so that a lot more ground can be covered,” he added.

Volunteers are asked: Wear bright colors so that the helicopter search teams don’t mistake a volunteer for Neskie.

Please bring water, granola bars/ trail mix for yourself. Be sure to wear layered clothes, as well as, shoes appropriate for bush terrain and a hat (tick season).

Search volunteers are asked to be at the Incident Command Post, located southwest end of Neskonlith Lake at Jennifer Dick's house, tomorrow at 8 a.m.

Directions: Go to Chase. Take the main drag (Shuswap Avenue). At the 4-Way Stop, turn left, cross the railway tracks, then cross the bridge. Follow the paved road, it becomes a dirt road, until you make a right turn at Nazare Road. Look for the redSAR signs at each junction.

Neskie’s parents encouraged everyone to remain positive. They thanked the Search and Rescue Volunteers, the community members and the RCMP.

“Many have been out day and night, on the river and, lakeshore and main search site without fail,” said his father Arthur Manuel.

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo continued to express support for search and rescue efforts for Neskonlith Lake Indian Band member Neskie Manuel. 
“I was welcomed into Neskonlith territory yesterday where community members have pulled together in a search and rescue effort for one of their own,” said Atleo. 

“While everyone is deeply concerned, the effort by the community is inspirational. It’s this kind of support and togetherness that shows the strength of our nations to stand with one another. We are seeing too many of our peoples missing or in unsafe situations and we need governments and all Canadians to stand with us as well in support of safety and security for all First Nations people. Our thoughts and prayers go to Neskie Manuel, his family and his community.”
AFN British Columbia Regional Chief Jody Wilson Raybould also added her support to the community and the search effort.

“First Nations across BC express concern and support for this search effort and send our best wishes to the Manuel family and the people of Neskonlith Lake,” she said yesterday.
Neskonlith Lake Indian Band councilor Neskie Manuel has been missing since Sunday May 8, 2011.  He was last seen at approximately 1:00am at a family camping ground in Neskonlith, BC. The community held a blanket dance ceremony yesterday to support continued search efforts. 
Persons who have information about his whereabouts are encouraged to contact Michelle Jones at 250-573-2780 (collect if necessary), the Neskonlith Indian Band at 250-679-3295 or a local RCMP detachment.

NESKONLITH BAND COUNCILLOR REMAINS MISSING

The search continues for Neskie Manuel, a 30-year-old Neskonlith Indian Band Councillor who went missing Sunday May 8 from family camping grounds near Neskonlith Lake by Chase BC.

Search and rescue teams from Kamloops, Shuswap and Vernon are working with community volunteers to comb the rugged mountain terrain, the lakes and the Thompson River. Aerial coverage has also been conducted without any sign of the young man.

Neskie has recently suffered a traumatic experience and has also been disoriented. He has never left without notifying family members.

The family is very grateful for the volunteers, donations and assistance everyone is providing at this time. Yesterday, more than 60 people came out to search the Neskonlith Lake areas.

Neskie Manuel is a Native male, 6’0 approximately, 180-190 lbs. He wears glasses, but may not have them. He was wearing a grey sweater, dark jeans and orange three-quarter top Nike running shoes with an orange swoosh logo.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to contact the local RCMP detachment.

The family is very concerned as no solid leads have been reported. They plead for people to come forward with new information about Neskie Manuel or if they have seen a person matching the description.

Neskie is a very active community member for Neskonlith Indian Band and is a cycling enthusiast who cycled across Canada in 2007 on a single speed bike. He attended TRU and majored in physics and minored in mathematics. Neskie joined the United States Navy in 1998 and was deployed as a Aviation Machinist Mate at various locations in south East Asia until September of 2001.

He is a board member on the Secwepemc Cultural Education Society, National Mining Watch, First Nations Technology Council (alternate for Chief Judy Wilson) and is a strong advocate Secwepemcts

Neskie is currently the station manager and programmer for Secwepemc Radio 91.1, the local radio that has been serving the Lakes Division of the Secwepemc Nation for the past four years. He has a global network of friends and colleagues across Canada and worldwide.

The family is very anxious for him to return home safely and is seeking the public’s assistance in getting the word out about Neskie and receiving any information about his whereabouts.

The Neskonlith Band Council and band administration is working collaboratively with the Manuel family to provide assistance to locate Neskie. For Shuswap Search and Rescue, Rob Udi is coordinating the ground, aerial and waterways for the area and is working directly with the local Chase RCMP Detachment.

Contact any Local RCMP Detachment if you have any information or sightings. And for family support, donations email the Neskonlith band at daniellemorin@neskonlithband.com or call the band office at 250-679-3295. The main communications centre/community gathering is at the Neskonlith Band Hall.