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Former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister and leadership candidate Richard Starke has announced he will not join the new United Conservative Party, saying he doesn’t think moderate views will be welcome. 

Starke, the MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster, said there were a number of red flags for him since Kenney won the PC leadership March 18. They included ambiguity on gay-straight alliances, PC Leader Jason Kenney’s decision not to take part in the Edmonton Pride Parade and statements on social media by PC party president Len Thom likening changes to the social studies program in Alberta schools to the Hitler Youth.

“As a veterinarian, at some point if there are so many clinical signs, you have to make a diagnosis,” he said. 

Starke said he volunteered to be on a committee to advise the PC members on the unity working group. He said that committee was never formed. The deal to unite with Wildrose and created the UCP was announced May 18. 

Starke said he notified the Speaker of the legislative assembly of his intentions not to join the new party. He will continue as a PC MLA. That may change if the PC board deregisters the party. 

On Saturday, members of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties ratified an agreement to merge under the UCP banner by a margin of 95 per cent.

Starke, who came a distant second to Jason Kenney in the PC party’s spring leadership race, has been silent on his views ever since the two parties reached the unity agreement on May 18.

Members of the PC and Wildrose caucuses are meeting Monday morning to choose an interim UCP leader who will serve until a permanent leader is elected on Oct. 28.

The new party is expected to register with Elections Alberta on Monday. 

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean is making an announcement in Airdrie on Monday afternoon. He is expected to launch his bid to lead the new party. 

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said it was “unfortunate” three of the five national Indigenous groups invited to meet with Canada’s premiers chose to boycott the meeting.

The Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council refused to attend the summit in Edmonton Monday, which precedes the two-day Council of the Federation.

The groups say they should be at the table with the premiers and not be segregated.

Notley, the host of this year’s premiers’ meeting, said her provincial and territorial colleagues were looking forward to talking with the leaders of these three groups.

She called the issues of how governments work with Indigenous people complex and evolving — and said they can only be resolved by talking.

“And you won’t get to resolution without having those conversations,” Notley said. “And we would suggest that the best way to engage in those conversations is to be there for them.”

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said he didn’t understand why the groups decided to boycott the meeting and said he was disappointed they wouldn’t be there.  

“Some of the three that are not here wanted specifically to have aboriginal engagement on the issue today and they’ve chosen not to engage,” he said. “I don’t understand it. I don’t think it’s the right call.”

Eleven of the Canada’s 13 premiers met Monday afternoon with the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Indigenous Peoples’ Assembly of Canada, which represents urban Indigenous people.

Notley said they would be talking about a report on the socio-economic status of Indigenous women and possibly touch on child-protection issues.

Quebec Premier Phillippe Couillard was not at the meeting. The province was represented by Geoffrey Kelley, Quebec’s minister responsible for Native Affairs.

British Columbia’s premier-designate John Horgan is skipping the premier’s summit as he is being sworn-in Tuesday.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Monday it was “unfortunate” three of the five national Indigenous groups invited to meet with Canada’s premiers chose to boycott the meeting.

The Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council refused to attend the summit in Edmonton Monday, which precedes the two-day Council of the Federation.

The groups say they should be at the table with the premiers and not be segregated.

Notley, the host of this year’s premiers’ meeting, said her provincial and territorial colleagues were looking forward to talking with the leaders of these three groups.

She called the issues of how governments work with Indigenous people complex and evolving — and said they can only be resolved by talking.

“And you won’t get to resolution without having those conversations,” Notley said. “And we would suggest that the best way to engage in those conversations is to be there for them.”

Eleven of the Canada’s 13 premiers met Monday afternoon with the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Indigenous Peoples’ Assembly of Canada, which represents urban Indigenous people.

Robert Bertrand, national chief of the Indigenous Peoples’ Assembly of Canada, said his group was not asked to be part of the boycott. 

Bertrand declined to comment on the boycott other than to say he was glad to be part of the meeting because it opened up channels of communication with premiers across the country.

“For the people that I represent, I think that it was a good thing that we were here this afternoon,” he said. 

Francyne Joe, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said her membership expects her to be at meetings like the one with the premiers. 

“We hope that the others will join us at some point so that we can work together and address these issues that are very important to all Indigenous people in this country” she said. 

Too much process

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said he didn’t understand why the groups decided to boycott the meeting and said he was disappointed they wouldn’t be there.  

Wall said he doesn’t know how the groups don’t feel welcome when a whole day was set aside to meet with them. 

“It doesn’t really matter what you call it, all the premiers are there,” Wall said. “We’ve come out of these meetings that I’ve been at the last 10 years, it’s results oriented. We’re resolved to undertake certain actions.”

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said good things came out of past meetings between the premiers and Indigenous leaders. 

He suggested that suggested that focusing too much on process might get in the way of achieving results.

“Process can be very important but at the end of the day, it’s only important because we are all trying to achieve results that will improve the quality of life of Indigenous people and First Nation communities,” Gallant said. 

Quebec Premier Phillippe Couillard was not at the meeting on Monday. The province was represented by Geoffrey Kelley, Quebec’s minister responsible for Native Affairs.

British Columbia’s premier-designate John Horgan is skipping the premier’s summit as he is being sworn-in Tuesday.

A low pressure system swept across central Alberta Thursday, triggering thunderstorms and at least one tornado.

Environment Canada confirmed a tornado touched down at approximately 5:30 p.m. near Breton, a village 100 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.

Teresa Pinyon captured video of the storm near her horse ranch.

She watched from the barn as it churned over her daughter’s neighbouring property. At least four funnel-shaped clouds twisted down from the storm around 5:30 p.m., she said.

“I was terrified,” Pinyon said. “You never think about that happening so close to home.”

This video was taken about eight kilometres northwest of Breton. Caution, strong language:

Wind from the storm ripped trees in half, leaving a swath of damage near Pinyon’s property.

“It just snapped them off,” she said. 

Some of the trees measured three feet wide, Pinyon added.

“When I seen the mess down there I was just in disbelief,” she said. “It was scary.”

‘It was a beautiful storm’

Fifty kilometres away, in Drayton Valley, hail the size of pudding cups hammered the town. 

Storm chaser Beth Allan watched the clouds unfurl from a perch nearby. She had been tracking the storm all day.

“It was a beautiful storm,” Allan said. “But I have to imagine it would be very scary for the general public to see a storm like that because it’s visually very oppressive.”

Every storm has a personality, she added. 

“This one just said, ‘I mean business.’ “

Severe Alberta weather leaves damage, flooding in its wake

Strong winds snapped trees near Breton when a storm rolled past the village Wednesday. (Supplied/Teresa Pinyon)

Severe Alberta weather leaves damage, flooding in its wake

Pudding-cup-size hail hammered homes near Drayton Valley. (Supplied/@debchamb15)

Severe Alberta weather leaves damage, flooding in its wake

Heavy rainfall flooded parts of Slave Lake. (Supplied/Kyle Whittle)

Thunderstorms unleashed torrential rain in other parts of the province. 

In Slave Lake, a convoy of seven vacuum trucks struggled to keep up.

“We’re just rounding up every vac truck we can find and trying to get ahead of it,” said Cody Kelly, the town’s senior utility operator.

“She really let loose,” he said about the storm.

“We’re getting to the danger zone here soon,” he added. “We’re trying to keep up, getting as many trucks in as we can but we’re losing ground.”

Kelly said his crew planned to work through the night to prevent local homes from flooding.

While Kelly worked, Kyle Whittle and his friends took advantage of the downpour. They tore down Slave Lake’s waterlogged roads in a truck, pulling a wakeboard through the shin-deep flood. 

“I was expecting a serious fail,” Whittle wrote in a Facebook message to CBC News. “But only one wipe out and a ton of laughs.”

Environment Canada is asking anyone with pictures of the tornado or damage it may have caused to get in touch with its meteorologists.

“Should you have any information regarding this event, or to report severe weather at any time, please call 1-800-239-0484, send an email to ec.storm.ec(at)canada.ca.”

Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives say more than 50,000 people have signed up to vote on a proposal to merge with the Opposition Wildrose to create a new right-of-centre party.

The party estimates about 18,000 people purchased memberships since a unity deal with the Wildrose was announced on May 18, PC Leader Jason Kenney said in a news release Thursday. 

The deadline was Wednesday night.

“It’s a terrific number. It’s very encouraging. It’s a significant increase over the numbers we had during the (recent) leadership campaign,” PC association president Len Thom said in an interview Thursday.

“It just shows that this is an issue that Albertans care passionately about.”

The membership guarantees the cardholder will be able to vote electronically over three days starting next Thursday.

The results are to be announced July 22, the same day the Wildrose announces the results of its unity vote.

A simple majority of PC members are needed to ratify the unity plan, while more than 75 per cent of Wildrose members have to sign off on it.

The Wildrose membership deadline has also passed. The party says more than 40,000 signed up to vote.

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and PC Leader Jason Kenney have been criss-crossing the province in recent weeks trying to drum up support for the proposed deal struck in May 18.

Should it be approved, the newly formed United Conservative Party would hold a leadership race and the winner would be selected Oct. 28. A founding convention would be held after that.

Jean, Kenney and Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer have already announced they will seek the leadership.

A unity bid was announced by Kenney over a year ago. He says vote-splitting among conservatives must end to avoid another NDP majority government in the 2019 election.

A four-year-old boy was rushed to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton after swallowing a bristle from a metal barbecue brush.

Oliver Schenn ate the bristle accidentally Tuesday evening after it became stuck to his food. The stiff stray wire then lodged in his throat.

His mother, Jenna Kuchik, said she thought the boy was having an allergic reaction when he complained about a stabbing pain in his throat, kept gagging and couldn’t swallow. 

“He started crying hysterically,” she recalled. 

She drove her son to the hospital in Whitecourt, where they live.

An X-ray revealed the bristle, which was about 1.5 centimetres long.

Toss metal BBQ brush, Alberta mom warns after hospital trip

An X-ray shows the metal barbecue brush bristle lodged in four-year-old Oliver Schenn’s throat. (Supplied/Jenna Kuchik)

Oliver was taken to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton by ambulance. Surgeons removed the bristle Wednesday.

“For a little guy, that’s just awful and scary,” Kuchik said.

“It was awful seeing my son going through that,” she added. “I couldn’t imagine anybody else or their kid having to go through it when it’s preventable.”

Oliver has since recovered and the family is back in Whitecourt. Their metal barbecue brush is in the trash, Kuchik said.

“What’s been the most difficult is that we were aware of this happening to other people,” she said. “We obviously didn’t take it seriously enough.”

Toss metal BBQ brush, Alberta mom warns after hospital trip

The metal bristle four-year-old Oliver Schenn swallowed measured approximately one and a half centimetres. It was cut in two when it was removed. (Supplied/Jenna Kuchik)

Dr. Louis Francescutti, an emergency physician at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital, said it could have been worse.

If the bristle hadn’t caught in Oliver’s throat, Francescutti said, it might have torn a hole in the boy’s intestine.

“Contents that may have bacteria in them spill into the bowel and then you get what’s called peritonitis,” he said.

“In other words, you get an inflammation of the lining of your abdominal cavity.”

In severe cases, he said, peritonitis can be fatal.

“It’s something that can be totally prevented by getting a different kind of brush,” Francescutti said. “The metal one is the worst one of all.”

Instead, he recommends a brush with a scrubbing head made of wood or pumice, and to change that brush regularly to prevent splintering.

“Ask yourself, ‘Would I want to eat part of this if it’s broke down?’ And if the answer’s no, then obviously don’t use it.”

Toss metal BBQ brush, Alberta mom warns after hospital trip

Oliver Schenn, 4, spent the night at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton after accidentally swallowing a bristle from a metal barbecue brush. (Supplied/Jenna Kuchik)

Alberta no longer holds the record for the world’s longest hockey game.

On Monday morning, a Buffalo, N.Y. recreational league dethroned the Canadians by just one second.

But the organizer of the Canadian event isn’t upset he’s been one-upped by the Americans.

Not quite, says Brent Saik, who helped put on the 2015 tournament at the Saiker’s Acres outdoor rink in Strathcona County, east of Edmonton. He’s glad the marathon hockey tournament fundraiser now has international momentum.

“I’m sort of proud of that,” Saik said. “This thing has sort of gotten legs of its own that other people are doing it and there’s millions upon millions being raised now by playing hockey.”

It happened shortly after 7 a.m. local time when the official time clock over centre ice hit 10 days, 10 hours, 3 minutes and 21 seconds.

$1.5M for cancer research

Like the Alberta players in 2015, the new record holders were raising money for cancer research.

The 11-Day Power Play tournament raised more than $1.5 million for cancer research.

A total of 40 recreational hockey players — many of them in their 40s — overcame injuries, illnesses and countless blisters to set the new record.

Player and organizer Mike Lesakowskin said he was motivated to raise money after his wife Amy was treated for breast cancer in 2009, and in honour of his mother, who died from cancer last year.

Alberta loses world record for longest hockey game to the U.S.

Team White players head to centre ice to shake hands with their Blue Team counterparts at Buffalo’s downtown HarborCenter on Monday morning. (John Wawrow/Associated Press)

“It was hard getting up in the middle of the night [at] 2 a.m., sticking your feet in an ice bucket and getting wrapped up,” Lesakowski said. “But here we are. And it feels great right now.”

The two teams were split into seven-player groupings of five skaters, one goalie and one substitute. They rotated playing four-hour shifts stopping every hour for 10 minutes while the ice was cleaned.

Many were forced to take additional shifts to fill in for those who became sidelined by injuries and illness because rules prevented teams from adding replacements once the game began.

Albertans want their title back

Nicholas Fattey continued playing despite a broken nose after being struck by a puck.

Whatever aches and pains the players felt while playing were washed away as they celebrated by sipping champagne out of a makeshift cup on the ice.

“I don’t know what to say right now. I’m very tired. We all are,” said Allan Davis, 65, the game’s oldest player.

“This event right here is humbling. The amount of money we raised is unbelievable. But how I am with all of it? I think it’s going to take a few days to sink in.”

But while the Canadians are pleased about what their southern neighbours have achieved, there’s already plans to surpass it.

“I love it that they only broke it by a second. We’re going to play again this February,” Saik said.

He and his group have set a goal of raising $2 million for Canadian cancer research.

For many of the athletes who have travelled to Alberta for the World Indigenous Nations Games, it’s as much about competition and culture as it is about supporting one another. 

Delegations from 29 countries, with representation from even more Indigenous nations within those borders, will take part in the opening ceremonies at Bear Park in Maskwacis on Monday night. The games run until July 9, with events also taking place in Enoch Cree Nation. 

On Sunday morning, a number of those who arrived early gathered at Tomahawk Park in Enoch Cree Nation for archery practice. On the sidelines was canoer Atilano Flaco from Embera Quera in Panama. 

Flaco is a veteran of the WIN Games, having competed and won a gold medal in the first-ever iteration of the event two years ago in Palmos, Brazil.

‘We come with unity in the different nations — not just in Panama, [but] other nations in Canada,” Flaco explained, through Giuseppe Villalaz, who travels with the team and translates. 

Villalaz has been following the reconciliation process in Canada. 

‘What’s happening with the reconciliation is ‘wow’ for me.’ – Giuseppe Villalaz, Brazil

“What’s happening with the reconciliation is ‘wow’ for me,” Villalaz said. “This is good.”

In Panama, he said the relationship of Indigenous nations with the government can also be up and down. 

​Villalaz said when it comes to Indigenous rights, dialogue is contentious, but the government supported sending the delegation of 82 athletes to Alberta. 

Sport a common denominator 

Areceio Olman, a coach with Paraguay delegation’s soccer team, said through translator Mauricio Rivera that among the 19 different nations from that country, the sport is the common denominator.  

World Indigenous Nations Games to open in Maskwacis

Areceio Olman, who coaches the soccer team that travelled from Paraguay, says the sport has united various nations within the state. (Roberta Bell/CBC )

Olman said Indigenous communities were playing their own traditional version of soccer long before Europeans arrived. 

‘It’s used as element of unification of the country to keep everyone together.’ – Areceio Olman, Paraguay, through translator

“It’s used as element of unification of the country to keep everyone together,” Olman said. 

Olman said keeping everyone together is key in his country. Guarani, an Indigenous language used in Paraguay, is heard in the parliament and among the non-Indigenous population.  

And though sports are a common denominator for Indigenous nations across the world, there are huge differences: like their equipment. For example, when the archers compete, it will be with their own traditional bows and arrows. 

But the friendly competition is still there. 

Flaco said he hopes to defend his title, but he added that he knows little about Canadian canoes. ​

“The canoe in Panama is so different,” explained Flaco, who still lives traditionally in a forested area on the edge of Panama City. He’s used to using a canoe as a mode of transportation. 

Opening ceremonies for the games is at 7 p.m. Monday. Find the full schedule here.

Two Quebecers pedalling across Canada to raise money for abused children made it to Edmonton Sunday — a halfway point and an important stop for the pair.

Jacques Létourneau, 56, and Peter Stolee, 55, always had biking across Canada on their bucket list.

For Stolee, originally from Edmonton, said he originally wanted to do the ride to celebrate sobriety.

“I used to smoke and drink quite a bit,” he said Sunday, admitting he was up to two packs of cigarettes a day.

Cyclists crossing Canada in support of abused children stop in Edmonton

Both Létourneau and Stolee are hoping to raise a dollar for every kilometre travelled on bike. (Radio-Canada)

But recently, he discovered another cause for his travels.

“We discovered recently that my niece was sexually abused,” Stolee said. “She came out on Facebook and that opened a dialogue with the family.”

She was sexually abused in Alberta, which makes his stops in the province all the more important.

With that, Stolee and Létourneau are hoping to raise $6,594 — one dollar for every kilometre they will travel — by mid-August.

Two frogs against abuse

The two started their cross-country ride in Halifax and made it to Montreal. Then, the pair flew to Victoria and began riding back to Montreal.

“We’re almost at the half,” Létourneau said. The pair are calling their trip “2 Frogs Against Abuse.

Cyclists crossing Canada in support of abused children stop in Edmonton

Létourneau and Stolee decided to call their cause ‘2 Frogs Against Abuse’ because they’re from Quebec, but also because the frog is a symbol of progress, as frogs cannot hop backwards. (Radio-Canada)

“The frog is a symbol of moving forward. Jumping forward. And not just staying and remaining a victim,” Stolee said.

“That’s sort of what we’re doing too — is moving forward across Canada and showing support for my niece, showing support for family and friends and all those victims.”

They expect the journey to take them until late July — July 24 is their target date to finish — hoping to do an average of 115 kilometres a day.

The two have raised about 20 per cent of their goal so far. Stolee said if the generosity they’ve experienced on the road so far is any indication of what they’ll receive for their fundraiser, they will meet their goal.

“The generosity across the country by people taking us in that don’t even know us, it’s just a great country to live in,” he said.

To donate, you can visit their Canada Helps page here.

One week after an Alberta fighter died in the ring, his family has been holding it together — with help from various communities he was a part of — ahead of a celebration of his life on Monday.

Tim Hague, who was injured in the boxing ring on June 16 after being knocked out by opponent Adam Braidwood, died two days later from a brain injury. He was 34 years old.

Jackie Neil, Hague’s older sister, said the family has received a lot of support from their friends, family and even strangers over the past week.

“We’re all doing OK — we’ve had phenomenal community and family support,” Neil told CBC News Sunday, adding that his nine-year-old son is doing well.

“It’s been really kind of touching for everybody to come and see us. We certainly didn’t expect it.”

'We're all doing OK': Family of fighter Tim Hague overwhelmed by support from MMA community

Hague and his nine-year-old son. (GoFundMe)

The celebration of life is in Hague’s hometown of Boyle, Alta. The celebration of life will be difficult for the family, but it was made easier by the GoFundMe page set up to help the family.

The GoFundMe has raised almost $49,000 in a week. The money is paying for the funeral expenses, Neil said, and the rest of the funds will go to Hague’s wife and nine-year-old son.

The fundraiser received a bump when MMA fighter Matt Mitrione told the crowd at Madison Square Garden Saturday night to donate to the fund.

Hey @mattmitrione that was an amazing shout out for our boy Tim Hague! https://t.co/f6wcUr5Mcr pic.twitter.com/CBQx8FBdtn

@IamJoFay

Mitrione won his fight at the Bellator pay-per-view event Saturday night, and tweeted out the link for his followers to donate afterward.

Neil said the family was surprised to hear the shout-out. “It’s still surreal for us to know that he was friends with these guys,” she said. “For him to give a shout-out to Tim, it’s really touching.”

Mitrione’s acknowledgment was another example of the effect Hague had on the people around him — something Neil said her family didn’t know the extent of until recently.

“The ripples go way further and way deeper than we ever could have imagined,” she said. “Ian [Hague, Tim’s brother] and I are getting so many messages daily since this happened about how Tim helped somebody one time.

“Everybody he met, he seems to have left a lasting impression.”

Best shape of his life

In the days leading up to the fight, Neil said, Hague was in the best shape of his life. He had dropped weight and seemed to be in good shape mentally.

“There was nothing for us to suspect that maybe he shouldn’t fight,” she said.

'We're all doing OK': Family of fighter Tim Hague overwhelmed by support from MMA community

Hague, in this recent picture, was in the best shape of his life, his sister says. (Facebook)

But since it happened, family members haven’t focused as much on the fight itself. They’ve been remembering Tim and supporting his wife and son.

The Edmonton Combative Sports Commission said last week it plans to review everything involved with the fight. The City of Edmonton, which oversees the commission, said it is planning a third-party review.

Neil said she hopes that if changes are made, they’re to maintain safety in the ring.

“We just hope fighters are more safe in the ring,” she said. “We just don’t want another family to have to go through this.”

Hague’s celebration of life is at 1 p.m. Monday in Boyle.

kyle.muzyka@cbc.ca
@kylemuzyka

Two months after her sons vanished on a boating trip near Fort Chipewyan, Alta., Mary Jane Ladouceur can finally say goodbye to both of them.

Andrew Ladouceur’s body was found by boaters on the grassy shore of northern Alberta’s Rocher River Saturday. The body of his brother, Walter, was found April 30. 

“Now I’m happy. My boy is home now,” Mary Jane said, adding family stayed with his body until police arrived. “Friday was two months since my boy has been gone. Finally they found him yesterday. I am glad.”

The Ladouceur brothers, along with fellow hunters Keanan Cardinal and Keith Marten, left Fort Chipewyan on April 23. They travelled on the Rocher River, heading to an area known as Devil’s Gate.

They never returned, and their boat was found on April 25.

Andrew’s body was recovered Saturday in an area of the river called Little Rapids, about eight kilometres downstream from where the boat was found.

He is the third of the four hunters recovered from the river. Keenan Cardinal was found May 1. Keith Marten is still missing.

The men never left each other behind, Mary Jane said. She said she’s thinking of Marten’s mother while the community waits for the last hunter to return home.

“I am glad to have my boy home now, but there is still one more,” she said. “Hopefully he will come in today.”

'My boy is home now': Body of hunter missing since April recovered near Fort Chipewyan

Clockwise from top left, Andrew Ladouceur, Walter Ladouceur, Keanan Cardinal and Keith Marten. Andrew’s body was recovered from the Rocher River June 24 after the group went missing on a hunting trip in April. (Facebook)

‘It’s better for the mothers to know where their sons are’

Andrew’s uncle, Raymond Ladouceur, said he’s thankful his nephew’s body was found so he can be properly buried.

“At least we know where he will be now,” he said. “It’s better for the mothers to know where their sons are.”

All four men were experienced hunters, and dozens of volunteers from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation, along with RCMP and Parks Canada officials were involved in the search days after they were confirmed missing.

Raymond Ladouceur said the brothers were “survival boys” who learned about the land and how to hunt from their father.

“Nice boys. Respectable boys, real kind hearted, they would help you in any way,” he said.

“It’s sad to lose two boys, two nephews in one shot. But I guess it happens. Our time comes, no matter where we’re at, we gotta go.”

Andrew Ladouceur’s body will be taken to Fort McMurray before returning to Fort Chipewyan, where a funeral will be held.

Police are still searching for signs of a missing boater two weeks after he vanished into the rushing waters of the Smoky River.

Search-and-rescue teams have been scouring the banks of the river since June 10, when a canoe capsized near the Riverstone golf course, about 65 kilometres northeast of Grande Prairie.

Due to unstable terrain in the area and high water levels, search efforts resumed Friday by air and boat, RCMP said in a news release.

RCMP are asking people to avoid the area as the search continues. Anyone with information that may assist in the search is asked to contact police.

‘He saved our lives’

Al Smith, 60, and two friends, Brook Dilworth and Nicole Belcourt, were in the canoe when it capsized into the river, which was running high and fast from spring thaw and heavy rains.

All three were able to grab on to a log and float down the river for several hours.

The two women managed to swim to shore, but Smith, too exhausted from the ordeal, remained clinging to the debris.

The women were found on the side of the river suffering from hypothermia.

“When I first jumped off the log, I didn’t think I was going to make it,” Dilworth told CTV News in an interview on June 13. “But Al pushed me, he said, ‘You can do it … go, go, go.’

“We definitely wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him. He saved our lives.”

Search continues for missing canoeist on Smoky River

Ground crews have been searching for the missing boater since June 10. (William Vavrek Photography)