Ghanaian woman walking toward Canada found dead near Minnesota border
Otyteye’s body was found partially submerged in a shallow pool of water in a drainage ditch. Preliminary autopsy reports suggest that Otuteye died of hypothermia.
Star Tribune – Authorities suspect that the woman from Ghana had traveled from Delaware to northwestern Minnesota in the hope of crossing to Canada and reuniting with her daughter there.
Otuteye, 57, was found Friday near the town of Noyes by local and U.S. Border Patrol investigators, according to the Kittson County Sheriff’s Office. It’s believed she died of exposure.
A day earlier, someone called the Sheriff’s Office and reported that Otuteye had been missing since May 22. Chief Deputy Sheriff Matt Vig said he believes Otuteye was trying to walk across the border to meet her daughter.
“I think temperatures were in the 40s that night,” Vig said in a television interview with WDAZ in Grand Forks, N.D. “Just tough weather for her to make that journey.”
Vig suspects the ditch “played a role [in her death]. It’s hard to say exactly what happened. We’ll find out more in the final autopsy report.”
He did not disclose the location in Canada of the woman’s daughter. The town across the border, Emerson, has roughly 650 inhabitants. Fewer than 50 call Noyes home.
Regina Otuteye, who lives in North Carolina, said Wednesday that she last spoke with her sister-in-law in March, and she “never talked to me about anything” concerning an intention to travel to Canada to see her only child. Regina Otuteye said her brother and Mavis have been separated for years, and he lives in Ghana.
While it’s not clear whether Otuteye’s effort to enter Canada involved asylum, Minnesota has become a key stop for a growing number of migrants who harbor that hope.
From April 2016 though January, more than 430 arrived in Winnipeg — significantly higher than normal. Most come by way of Minneapolis, sometimes after grueling treks across Latin America and stints in U.S. immigration detention.
The exodus is coinciding with new steps by the Trump administration to restrict immigration.
Frank Indome, an executive with a support group for Ghanaians in Manitoba, said he had not known about Mavis Otuteye during the time she was reported missing. Indome said his Ghanaian Union of Manitoba is “still trying to find” people in the province who have an association with Otuteye, but “there doesn’t seem to be anyone who knows her or is acquainted with her.”
Indome cautioned against assuming that Otuteye was an asylum-seeker, pointing out that “hers is not the normal profile of people we have crossing. They are usually men in their 20s. She really doesn’t really fit the profile of those leaving the U.S. for more kind [immigrant] policies.”
In the past four months, nearly 600 people have crossed from the United States into Manitoba in pursuit of asylum, according to Welcome Place, a Winnipeg-based organization that helps with refugee settlement.
Indome predicted that “with the good weather that we are having, more people will be thinking of doing this.”