Child Find Saskatchewan ends operation after 37 years of helping find missing kids

After 37 years of service a Saskatchewan charity dedicated to help find missing children has closed its doors for good.

With work of other organizations, 'there is not a need the way there was 37 years ago for us': president

Child Find Saskatchewan says the organization had a 75 per cent recovery rate over its 37 years of operation. It stopped day-to-day operations as of Oct. 29. (Muhammad Amin/Shutterstock)

After 37 years of service, a Saskatchewan charity dedicated to helping find missing children has closed its doors for good.

"Closing was not an easy decision to make and we did not make it lightly," Child Find Saskatchewan said in a recent update on its website.

The global pandemic played a big role in the decision to shut down operations on Oct. 29, 2021, the last president of the organization told CBC.

"We're not able to get out and deliver our programs the way we were before," said Phyllis Hallatt. 

"It's just time. There's so many other organizations doing some of our programs…. There is not a need the way there was 37 years ago for us."

Recruiting new members to join the organization's board has also been an issue, Hallatt said.

Reuniting families

From posters of missing children to events, educational programs and ads in newspapers, the charity has been dedicated to helping families reunite with missing kids.

The organization also helped in the delivery of the Amber Alert program, according to the Child Find Saskatchewan website.

Hallatt herself became involved with Child Find Saskatchewan over 34 years ago.

"I thought I had made it pretty clear I was doing the accounting only," she said.

"That lasted about five minutes, I think."

Phyllis Hallatt has been with Child Find Saskatchewan since 1986. The organization has helped parents searching for their children and developed educational programs to prevent kids from going missing, according to the Child Find Saskatchewan website. (Child Find Saskatchewan/YouTube)

Soon, the Saskatoon woman was doing far more for the charity than keeping its books.

She started carrying a pager, answering phone calls and doing interviews, and eventually became the charity's president.

"I just got deeper and deeper and deeper into it," said Hallatt. "I really enjoyed what I was doing."

Despite more than three decades of service, she still remembers some of the cases Child Find Saskatchewan has helped with over the years.

"We have found children after 12 years, 17-and-a-half years," she said.

"The last one was a couple of years ago, and that little boy has been gone for 31 years. So those are the things that renew your confidence."

In an interview published on the Child Find Saskatchewan website, Hallatt said the organization had a 75 per cent recovery rate over the years. 

While it is rewarding to help families find their missing children, Child Find Saskatchewan couldn't always deliver good news. 

Cases where they discovered a missing person had died were "the hard ones," Hallatt said.

"But at least it gives the parents a starting [point] to deal with what has happened to the child."

While Child Find Saskatchewan has come to an end, the organization hasn't dropped everything from one day to the next.

Its website will be in service for at least another year, and emails and letters will be checked, Hallatt said.

"We're trying to cover as much as we can without actually doing the day-to-day operations."

On its website, Child Find Saskatchewan refers people in need of assistance regarding a missing child to, a national program of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

With files from The Afternoon Edition


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?