Manitoba

Manitoba man missing for 3 years was a 'kid at heart', sister says as search continues

Three years after he disappeared, the family of Dwayne Lavallee still hasn’t given up.

Dwayne Lavallee was last seen on Sept. 22, 2018, gassing up car on Ebb and Flow First Nation

Dwayne Lavallee was last seen Sept. 22, 2018, around 2 p.m. on Ebb and Flow First Nation. (Submitted by RCMP)

Three years after he disappeared, the family of Dwayne Lavallee still hasn't given up.

"It's a struggle, but we're getting by," said Chantel Lavallee, Dwayne's sister.

The 21-year-old was last seen on Sept. 22, 2018, gassing up his vehicle at a store in Ebb and Flow First Nation — about 180 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg and just over 100 kilometres south of Skownan First Nation, where Dwayne was from.

No one has heard from him since. Days later, his vehicle was found north of Ste. Rose du Lac, about 40 kilometres west of Ebb and Flow, at the end of a dead-end road. 

The large-scale ground and air searches that took place in the days and weeks that followed have now dwindled to searches by just a few close friends and family. 

Costly search

But Lavallee says the family can't, and won't, stop.

"I think we've come to terms with him being gone," she said in an interview with CBC News. "We're not going to accept it at the end because he's not home yet." 

Lavallee said the family plans to take cadaver dogs out to help search this fall, but she said they aren't sure where they'll search yet.

"It's very costly," she said. "Our time with the dogs is crucial, and we want to make sure we're taking them in the right places."

The expenses involved in the search are one challenge, she said. The mental and physical toll it's taken on her family has also been hard. 

"My mom and my dad, their health is not very good and my grandma helped search right up until she couldn't do it anymore." 

'Kid at heart'

Lavallee said her brother was a kind, gentle man. When he disappeared, he had just finished a seasonal job and had been looking for work.

"He was a really good uncle," she said. "He would buy my kids the most advanced toys and the most fun toys, just so he could play with them.

"He was a kid at heart. He really, really loved working. He worked hard for everything, and he was a family man. Everybody in my family had a unique relationship with him."

The family has conducted searches and held rallies for Dwayne Lavallee, including this one at the Manitoba Legislature on Nov. 16, 2018, about two months after he was last seen. (John Einarson/CBC )

Manitoba RCMP "continue to actively investigate the disappearance of Dwayne Lavallee," spokesperson Sgt. Paul Manaigre told CBC in an email. 

"We continue to receive tips and interview those that may have further information to assist us in this ongoing investigation." 

Family seeks tips 

Lavallee urges anyone who might have even the smallest of details about the days before her brother was last seen to come forward.

"Obviously somebody knows something.… Somebody knows where he is," she said.

"We're still trying. We can't properly grieve until he is home." 

She said the family is planning a memorial this week, to mark the anniversary of the day he was last seen.

"We're doing as much as we can just to keep going."

Anyone with information on the disappearance of Dwayne Lavallee is asked to call Ste. Rose du Lac RCMP at 204-447-3082 or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Riley Laychuk is CBC's reporter based in Brandon, covering rural Manitoba. Share your story ideas, tips and feedback: riley.laychuk@cbc.ca.

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