Edith Blais of Quebec and her travel companion, Luca Taccheto of Italy, went missing in December while travelling in Burkina Faso. (The Canadian Press)

Burkina Faso minister says missing Quebec woman is alive, removed from territory

Burkina Faso’s security minister referred to the pair’s disappearance as a kidnapping in January

A Canadian woman and her Italian companion who have been missing in West Africa since last December are alive but no longer in the country, a senior minister with Burkina Faso’s government says.

Communications Minister Remis Fulgance Dandjinou told Italian public broadcaster Rai that Edith Blais of Sherbrooke, Que., and her travel companion, Luca Tacchetto of Italy, are not in danger.

In an interview broadcast on Friday, Dandjinou said he was hopeful the pair can be located and brought home safe and sound.

Blais, 34, and Tacchetto, 30, were travelling by car in southwestern Burkina Faso and heading to Togo to do volunteer work with an aid group when they vanished around Dec. 15, 2018.

Dandjinou’s comments this week backed up a recent report by Human Rights Watch that indicated the pair had been abducted and taken to Mali.

READ MORE: Missing Canadian Edith Blais was kidnapped, taken to Mali: Human Rights Watch

That report, published March 22 on the advocacy group’s website, did not mention the fate of the two travellers.

“While no armed Islamist group has taken responsibility for their abduction, they are believed to have been kidnapped and later taken to Mali,” said the report, titled “Abuses by Armed Islamist Groups in Burkina Faso’s Sahel Region,” citing an interview with Malian security sources on Jan. 13.

In a January statement, Burkina Faso’s security minister referred to the pair’s disappearance as a kidnapping, but the Canadian government has not confirmed that, only saying officials haven’t ruled out any possibilities.

Senior Liberal cabinet ministers met with Blais’ family in Quebec’s Eastern Townships region in January and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the time he believed Blais was still alive.

Earlier this year, another Canadian, Kirk Woodman, was found dead in northern Burkina Faso, close to the border with Mali and Niger. An executive with a Vancouver-based mining company, Woodman had been kidnapped a day earlier by gunmen as he worked on a gold mining project.

Blais and Tacchetto set off in his car on Nov. 20 from the northern Italian town of Vigonza, outside Padua. They travelled through France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania and Mali before arriving in Burkina Faso. They were last seen in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso in the country’s southwest.

Global Affairs Canada wouldn’t comment directly Saturday on Dandjinou’s comments.

A spokeswoman issued a short statement saying the department was aware of a Canadian missing in Burkina Faso and that officials were in contact with family and providing assistance.

Brittany Fletcher said in an email that Canadian officials in Burkina Faso are also in contact with local authorities.

“The Government of Canada’s first priority is always the safety and security of its citizens. For this reason, we will not comment on or release any information which may compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of Canadians,” she wrote.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Southeast Kootenay school district set to reopen next week

Individual schools have creative timetables and schedules in order to adhere to public health orders

George Morris turns 99

Friends, family and neighbours gathered outside at Terra Lee Terraces in Cranbrook… Continue reading

Rotarians at work at Fred Scott Villas

Members of the Cranbrook Rotary Club, along with some key community volunteers,… Continue reading

The Weed Warrior: an invasive weed, new to the East Kootenay

Wild Parsnip is a plant that most of us don’t want to have a Close Encounter of any Kind with

Possible Kermode Bear spotted near Castlegar

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run on May 27

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read