The search party that had come together to help find a missing person in March of this year: (from left) Rene Castro, a WPS Officer, Darryl Cantois, Tek de Leon, Allan Pamplona, Pastor Vic Cuarto, a relative of the found missing person hidden to protect privacy), Charmaine Hernandez, Denny Nangan, Beth Olesco (the 204VI volunteer who found the missing person) and Rodel Olesco.
By Leila Castro
The recently concluded Upo Festival event, which showcased the heaviest and longest Manitoba-grown Asian vegetable upo (15 kilos and 8 feet respectively) and that had put together 200 people for a boodle fight dinner, did not only create a venue to celebrate the Filipino culture but it also helped raise fund for the one-year operating expense of the 204 Volunteer Inc.-Caring Manitobans In Action (204VI). Founded six years ago, the non-profit group 204VI used to be called 204 Neighbourhood Watch Inc. Through the years, it expanded and created more programs, one of which is the Capacity Building Program that helps fellow non-profit grassroots groups have the tools to start with or to expand their organization.
In the past years, the groups that benefitted from 204VI’s Capacity Building Program were Wolseley Watch, St. James-Deerlodge Neighbourhood Watch, and the Aurora community at McPhillips. Last July, 204VI gave to the grassroots group St. James-Deerlodge Neighbourhood Watch and Outreach Patrol – King Edward and Bruce Park Chapter led by Jeri Stern, 30 vests with prints of the organization’s logo, and shouldered the food expenses and the other logistics needs for its public launch during the event West Winnipeg Safety Jam. The latest group that 204VI helped with capacity building was The Evelyn Memorial Search Team, a group of indigenous volunteers that perform the hard and complex work of searching for missing persons in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Ontario.
Darryl Cantois founded The Evelyn Memorial Search Team five years ago. For years, Cantois has helped in searches for dozens of missing persons. In 2016, he found the lifeless body of Azraya Kokopenace during the search for the missing 14-year-old in Ontario. Cantois helped 204VI search for a missing Filipino Manitoban in 2018. In June of 2018, a search party was formed, standing in front of 200 volunteers inside PCCM at Keewatin, Cantois briefed the volunteers that doing the search is not easy and that you do not know what to expect. He added that it might be a decomposing dead body of a missing person that might be waiting for you, so you must be ready with what you will smell and see.
On one chilly evening last March, Cantois joined a dozen of 204VI volunteers and WPS to search for a missing 17-year-old girl. 204VI volunteer Beth Olesco found the missing girl.
Last month, volunteers of 204VI met with Cantois to hand over to him the 20 black vests with the logo of The Evelyn Memorial Search Team. 204VI is hoping that Cantois’ wish will be fulfilled.
Cantois said, “The media say my name in their news stories, but no one had ever mentioned our organization’s name, which bears my mother’s name Evelyn.” By wearing their organization’s identity, 204VI hopes that the media and the community will also recognize the organization behind Cantois and his team’s great deeds.
(From left) Leila Castro, Evo Paguio, Daryl Cantois, Roberta Greyeyes, and Denny Nangan
Jeri Stern, the leader of St. James-Deerlodge Neighbourhood Watch and Outreach – King Edward and St. James Chapter, addressing the attendees of West Winnipeg Safety Jam Winnipeg event in July this year.
The vests with logo prints donated by 204VI to fellow grassroots organizations.
Photo credits to Rene Castro and Beth Olesco