Mother of missing man Ryan Shtuka finds purpose sharing her knowledge of extensive search | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Mother of missing man Ryan Shtuka finds purpose sharing her knowledge of extensive search

The parents of Ryan Shtuka, Heather and Scott, speak to media on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, to mark the anniversary of their son.

Heather Shtuka has never stopped searching for her son, Ryan, after he went missing on his way home from a house party at Sun Peaks Resort, February 17, 2018.

She and her husband Scott continue to do extensive searches of the Sun Peaks Resort area every year, along with the help of volunteers. The pair have conducted six searches for their son in the past year, spending four to seven days at a time.

READ MORE: Search continues for Ryan Shtuka this weekend

Shtuka was invited to speak at the fall training seminar of Canadian Search Dog Association in Edmonton, Sept. 3 to share her knowledge and experience with extensive searches. The association is a provincial, non-profit group run by volunteer workers and search dogs trained to find missing people and evidence.

Shtuka called the opportunity an honour that gave her a rewarding sense of purpose.

“As I sat in front of these dedicated volunteers, my only wish was to offer perspective from a family member's view,” she said. “Scott and I have learned so much and experienced the ebb and flow that come with extensive searching. Speaking to groups like these offers insights from a personal standpoint to volunteers who have spent many man-hours honing their knowledge.”

Shtuka said knowledge is the biggest key to have when searching for a missing loved one.

“Although the journey is unique to each individual, those initial feelings of disbelief, terror and grief are the same,” she said. “No one tells you that becoming your loved one's advocate will be paramount in the search. You need to push, hold accountability and research every avenue available.”

There is a time after someone goes missing when the official search organizations go home and it becomes paramount to know what resources remain available.

“Every province, county and state have volunteers that devote their time, expertise and experience to helping families of missing people,” Shtuka said. “Some can only be deployed by local law enforcement while others can be called upon at any given time. Understanding the difference is important in finding the most appropriate resource.”

Shtuka is open to doing more public speaking about extensive searching in the future. She said the volunteers at the association last week were very appreciative of what she had to say.

"One volunteer is a member of the southeast district of the Edmonton RCMP," Shtuka said. "She asked if I would like to speak to her officers."

Shtuka aims to share what knowledge she has to search teams and provide a deeper understanding of her family's experiences.

"I never speak for other families as each journey is unique to the person experiencing it," she said. "I share our observations and insights into this 3.5-year long search and information or points that provide a different perspective on the volunteer's side. I take the ego out of the equation. Experience is important but no matter how long you have been doing something for, no one is infallible."

For past stories on Ryan Shtuka go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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