Almost three months to the day that Kienan Hebert went missing, did the series of events come full circle. Volunteers and twenty eight Search and Rescue and search related teams were collectively honoured and thanked for their dedication and service that has become admired worldwide. “In all my memory, I have never witnessed such a massive undertaking that came together so quickly and was so organized. It was absolutely tremendous, and the positive outcome makes it even more amazing,” says Cpl. Dan Moskaluk, Media Relations Officer.
With a crowd filled with Search and Rescuers and other volunteers the mood was cheerful as these dedicated volunteers were visiting with each other, speaking with RCMP members and finding closure to a highly emotional case. The Hebert family was in attendance and Kienan’s dad Paul became emotional as he spoke to those who were desperately trying to find his son. “You are all true hero’s,” said Paul. “It was your strength, and all of your support that we drew from. I don’t know how we could have made it through, without you,” he said.
RCMP Corporal/Superintendant Mike Sekela presented the group of twenty eight letters of appreciation. Local Member of Parliament David Wilks also spoke to the volunteers and made five presentations on behalf of the Federal Government.
Ceremony Address by C/Supt Mike Sekela on Thursday December 15, 2011 in Sparwood
Honorable David Wilks, Mayor Halko, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Mike Sekela Chief Superintendent and I am the District Officer for “E’ Division, Southeast District. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to come to your beautiful community today to recognize the organizations and individuals who played such a key part in the safe return of three year old Keinan Hebert to his family in Sparwood, B.C. in September, 2011.
It is easy to believe that we live in a world where only terrible things happen. All you have to do is turn on the television or listen to the radio to hear about tragedies and disasters that seem to be occur in a never-ending stream. It is very easy to get downhearted and discouraged. However, we are not here today to think about the negative. We are here today to celebrate a success story. We are here to formally recognize the efforts of the organizations that made that success a reality. Perhaps more importantly, we are here to celebrate the volunteer spirit and the support of the communities that make our world a better place to live in.
In the early morning hours of September 7, 2011, every community’s worst nightmare took place in Sparwood, B.C. A small child, the most vulnerable member of our society, disappeared from his own home under suspicious circumstances. Rather than allow itself to be paralyzed by fear, the community of Sparwood launched itself into action. Within minutes, the RCMP and local Search and Rescue groups organized themselves and immediately began searching for the young boy. Over the ensuing days, those first frantic efforts grew into a well-oiled machine that sent out over 500 searchers a day on foot, in aircraft, boats, horses, vehicles and ATVs to scour the Elk Valley and beyond. Throughout the search, the volunteers kept coming; from the Elk Valley area and as far away as Coquitlam, Prince George and Alberta. The efforts that went into gathering that number of volunteers, providing for their needs and ensuring that the ongoing search was conducted in a logical and systematic manner were outstanding. I can tell you that the tremendous search effort was a key part of the happy resolution of the abduction of Kienan.
The Letters of Appreciation that I will be presenting today on behalf of the Southeast District RCMP have the names of organizations written on them. But I think it is very important to note that every organization is made up of individuals and no organization functions without the people who are part of it. These individuals are the volunteers who put aside their own lives, their jobs and their families when the call for help goes out. When the phone rings or the message is received, they never ask why. They simply grab their gear and go to where they are needed most. Whether it be the ladies making lunches for the searchers, the managers working endless hours in the command posts or the searchers who sometimes literally walked shoulder-to-shoulder looking for that vital piece of evidence, the success of their organizations is really their success. I thank them for their efforts and their community-mindedness. They represent the best in all of us.
I would like now to read to you all the wording that is written on the Letters of Appreciation:
In recognition of your outstanding contribution to the search for a missing three year old child in Sparwood, British Columbia in September, 2011. The determination and unflagging efforts of the members of your organization during this massive search effort played a key role in bringing comfort to a community in crisis and contributed greatly to the safe return of the child to his family and the eventual capture of the individual involved in his abduction. The dedication your group displayed in the most difficult of circumstances demonstrated the highest standards of professionalism and commitment and serves as an example to all those involved in service to the community.
On behalf of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Southeast District, and Elk Valley Detachment, I thank you all for your contributions.