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Canada  

Still missing in Africa

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau met Friday 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.

"I will tell you it was very much a conversation between mothers," a visibly shaken Bibeau said. "We talked a lot about Edith. Those are two extraordinary women who are very strong, and I believe they are reassured that our government is doing what has to be done in such circumstances."

Blais' mother and sister declined to speak to media before or after meeting the ministers.

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.

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, and Bibeau said only that it is not ruling out any possibilities.

The meeting came the day after 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.

Blais' mother and sister live in Sherbrooke, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet have been meeting this week.



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