It was Edith Blais' "lifelong dream" to travel to Africa, her mother tells the CBC. But after the 34-year-old Quebec woman achieved that dream last year, she disappeared—she and her companion, 30-year-old Italian man Luca Tacchetto, have not been heard from since Dec. 15. They were in Burkina Faso at the time, and on Sunday, Canadian officials said their vanishing is being treated as a kidnapping, the CBC reports. The pair was planning to travel to the capital city, Ouagadougou, for a few days before heading to the neighboring West African nation of Togo to work on a restoration project for a month. But they never arrived. While many have reached out with tips via a Facebook page Blais' family set up to help with the search, her mother says what's "difficult" is that "there is nothing tangible" and it's not clear what leads should be followed up on.
Blais' mother says her daughter, a visual artist, led a bohemian lifestyle, traveling often since age 18; she and Tacchetto were in Europe before heading to Africa. "They weren’t worried about anything," Blais sister tells CTV of the traveling companions. "They were having a really happy trip. She has been dreaming about traveling to Africa for all of her life." But a former Canadian diplomat tells CTV he cautions against traveling in the troubled region, and the Canadian government has an active travel advisory for Burkina Faso advising against any non-essential travel. Of particular concern are its borders with Mali, Niger, Benin, and Togo due to threats including terrorism, banditry, and kidnapping. A state of emergency was declared in Burkina Faso last week following terrorist attacks in the north. (A blind Michigan woman also went missing in Peru last month.)