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'Keep Ruby in your prayers': Search continues for 11-year-old who vanished from St. Kateri

Police continue exhaustive search for Grade 6 student last seen at St. Kateri Outdoor Learning Centre; sniffer dogs, boat and search-and-rescue helicopter on scene

Police are continuing their exhaustive search today for an 11-year-old girl who disappeared Friday afternoon at St. Kateri Outdoor Learning Centre.

Ruby Kerr, a Grade 6 student at Holy Cross elementary school, was last seen at the Goulais Avenue learning centre around 11 a.m. on Friday. A full 24 hours have now passed since anyone has heard from her.

Five-feet tall with shoulder-length light brown hair, she is believed to be wearing a black T-shirt with an anime design on the front — the same shirt she is wearing in the above photo gallery.

The intense search effort remains focused on the wooded areas surrounding St. Kateri.

“We are using every resource at our disposal to try to find Ruby,” Lincoln Louttit, a spokesman for the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, told SooToday on Saturday. “The Ontario Provincial Police has their K-9 unit out, we have our drone up, the MNRF has their drone, Sault Search and Rescue is out, OPP Emergency Response Team is out, our ESU is out. We have tons of resources out there and we are utilizing everything that we can.”

A command unit has been set up on scene, and police cruisers remain parked in front of the facility and along the roadway leading to the property. 

A Sault Search and Rescue boat has been deployed on nearby Nettleton Lake and a helicopter continues to circle overhead, scouring for any glimpse of Ruby.

"We really want people to check their cameras, check their property, outbuildings, etc. for any sign of Ruby," Louttit said. "Maybe Ruby was looking for somewhere to hunker down overnight."

Louttit said people have been "inundating" the city's 911 communications centre to ask why police have not issued an Amber Alert. He pointed out that Amber Alerts are only issued in rare cases of suspected child abductions, and "we do not have any information at this time to suggest that Ruby was taken."

Ruby Kerr is part of the Outdoor Learning Program at Holy Cross, a unique initiative of the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board that focuses on Indigenous perspectives and land-based teachings. The program consists of a morning session at St. Kateri followed by an afternoon in-class session at the east-end school.

The principal of Holy Cross sent a letter to parents Friday afternoon, informing them of "an ongoing situation at St. Kateri."

"Today, one of the students in the Grade 6 Outdoor Education Class did not return from their designated play area after an activity," the note reads. "Staff immediately responded to the situation and contacted City Police, who are leading the search efforts."

"Members of the school board's mental health team met the class upon their return to the school to provide support and offer counselling services," the letter continues. "We continue to pray for the safe arrival of the missing student and will update the school community at such time."

Shortly before midnight Friday, the director of education at the Huron-Superior board issued a personal plea on Facebook, asking anyone who lives near St. Kateri to check their "back garages and sheds to see if Ruby has found shelter there."

"She may have tried to seek shelter and found her way to your garage or shed," wrote Danny Viotto. "Please take a quick few minutes to help out. Thank you to the SSM police, search and rescue and all those involved in this intensive search. Please keep Ruby in your prayers for a safe return home soon."

Anyone with information is urged to contact Sault Ste. Marie Police by calling 911 or 705-949-6300.