The New Zealand woman who vanished from her home in Canada is "the sweetest person" who brings light into the lives of those around her, a friend says.

Shilanne Stedmances, 22, who lives on Bowen Island, told her family she loved them before she left her home at 8.30pm on Monday (5.30pm Tuesday NZST), according to a press release from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Locals have been desperately searching for Stedmances this week and posting impassioned pleas on social media asking her to come home or to let someone know she is safe.

But today friend Ralie Nikolova said she and others were preparing for the worst, as divers joined in the search.


"I don't have any more information other than they called off the search yesterday around 6pm and now they have divers looking, and that's as far as I know so far," she said from her home in British Columbia.

"I had a gut feeling, I just felt this energy and I just thought 'rocks'," she said.

"She has done this before many times but she's never missing for more than a day, and she always has her phone ... I just couldn't see her leaving the house without her phone."

On this occasion, Stedmances left her phone and wallet behind, according to local police.

Stedmances has dual citizenship, but lives in Canada with her mother.

"She was just the sweetest person. I'm not sure if you've seen all the posts calling her an angel, she really was, like, the most compassionate person," Nikolova said.

"She's been through a lot, she's struggled with a lot and she bounced back every time."

Stedmances was always ready to push her own troubles aside to help others.


"She was a really bright light ... she really brought a lot of life into people's lives."

Nikolova has known Stedmances for about five years, and said Bowen Island was a small community where everyone knew each other.

"It's almost just like a big family so this really hit, like, a lot of people."

Nikolova said she went with her to Stedmance's first AA meeting, and said she had been clean and sober since then and was "slowly stepping up her life".

She fondly remembers a time when Stedmances, who is afraid of heights, climbed a boulder and did a yoga pose on top. She sent Nikolova a photo telling her she had inspired her, and that challenging herself in that way had scared her but also made her feel free.

"She told me I inspired her when she's always the one inspiring us to do better."

Nikolova had printed out some fliers calling for help searching for Stedmances, and the posters were now sitting on her couch.

"I can't really look at them," she said.

"I hope so much that people remember her, because she was such a beautiful person."

Another friend, who lived with Stedmances when she was in New Zealand several years ago, described her as "honestly one of the most warming, spiritual, loving people I've ever met".

"As I suffered bad with mental health too, she always helped me through bad times," Shaw Durham said.

"We'd go on walks through the forest together in New Zealand and lift each other up when we felt down.

"She is honestly the most amazing soul. I was only speaking to her a few days ago about coming over to Canada for a road trip, she was going to show me Canada."

She said Stedmance lived in New Zealand for a couple of years.

Sergeant Sascha Banks said the Bowen Island RCMP and support sections "have fully taken over the search for Shilanne Stedmances".

"The search for Shilanne continues and is now focused on an area in and around Bowen Island.

"The RCMP has brought in several specialised sections and are being assisted by Vancouver Police Department Marine Unit and Westcoast Marine."

Banks said police would not speculate on what had happened to Shilanne.

Stedmances is described as five feet, two inches tall (1.57m), with brown hair and blue eyes.

She was last seen wearing a black long-sleeved T-shirt and black pants.


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.



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