Federal ministers seek to reassure family of Canadian woman missing in West Africa

Luca Tacchetto and Edith Blais

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau met this morning with family members of a Quebec woman who has been missing in Burkina Faso for more than a month.

Bibeau offered few details as she spoke to reporters after the meeting with the mother and sister of Edith Blais in Sherbrooke, Que.

The 34-year-old Blais and her Italian friend Luca Tacchetto have not been heard from since Dec. 15. They were travelling by car in southwestern Burkina Faso en route to Togo, where they planned to do volunteer work with an aid group.

Visibly shaken, Bibeau said she had reassured the family that the Canadian government is working hard to find Blais. She described the meeting as a conversation between mothers.

A statement Wednesday by Burkina Faso Security Minister Clement Sawadogo referred to the disappearance of Blais and Tacchetto as a kidnapping. The Canadian government has not confirmed the information.

The meeting came the day after news broke that another Canadian, Kirk Woodman, had been found dead in Burkina Faso after being kidnapped this week. Woodman, originally from Halifax, worked for a Vancouver-based mining company.

Blais’ mother and sister live in Sherbrooke, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet have been holding a retreat.

The Canadian Press