Fam­ily of Que­be­cer miss­ing in Africa re­as­sured Ot­tawa tak­ing case se­ri­ously

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - NATIONAL NEWS - GIUSEPPE VALIANTE

MON­TREAL — The fam­ily of a Que­bec woman who went miss­ing with her Ital­ian friend in West Africa last month says it fi­nally feels fed­eral au­thor­i­ties are tak­ing the case se­ri­ously fol­low­ing sev­eral frus­trat­ing days seek­ing an­swers from Ot­tawa.

Sher­brooke, Que., na­tive Edith Blais and her Ital­ian friend Luca Tac­chetto were trav­el­ling by car in Burk­ina Faso when all com­mu­ni­ca­tion with their fam­i­lies abruptly ended Dec. 15. Me­dia have re­ported their dis­ap­pear­ance is be­ing treated as a pos­si­ble kid­nap­ping, but Blais’ sis­ter, Melanie Berg­eron Blais, said Mon­day the fam­ily has re­ceived no in­for­ma­tion the pair were ab­ducted.

“It’s a pos­si­bil­ity,” Berg­eron Blais said about whether the pair were kid­napped. “There aren’t 1,000 dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios of what could have hap­pened. But we’ve re­ceived no clues, and we can’t con­firm or deny it.” Tac­chetto and Blais, 34, were last seen in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso, in Burk­ina Faso’s south­west, and had planned to drive to the cap­i­tal of Oua­gadougou be­fore cross­ing into neigh­bour­ing Togo. Blais planned to vol­un­teer with an or­ga­ni­za­tion at­tempt­ing to re­for­est parts of Togo.

Berg­eron Blais said the fam­ily called Global Af­fairs Canada’s hot­line at the end of De­cem­ber to see whether fed­eral au­thor­i­ties could de­ter­mine whether the two had crossed the bor­der into Togo and if data from their pass­ports or visas was col­lected.

Af­ter hear­ing no news for three or four days, the fam­ily called back, only to be asked for Blais’ pass­port num­ber.

“The front-line ser­vices at (Global Af­fairs) were re­ally de­fi­cient,” Berg­eron Blais said. “It was con­fus­ing. They didn’t seem like they were mak­ing an ef­fort.”

The fam­ily’s frus­tra­tions were as­suaged fol­low­ing a meet­ing Sun­day with Global Af­fairs of­fi­cials.

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