Two men who died in Saturday's jet crash in Nunavut had survived a separate crash near Cambridge Bay only three years ago, and had been living with a fear of being killed while flying again.

"It's very shocking. It don't seem real to any of us at all," said Meena Tibbo, whose uncle, Ches Tibbo, was among the 12 people killed when a First Air Boeing 737-200 crashed Saturday. Tibbo was killed on his 49th birthday.

Ches Tibbo, who lived in the southern Newfoundland fishing village of Harbour Mille, had been on a plane in 2008 that hit the ground.

Meena Tibbo said it took her uncle almost three years to recover from those injuries.

"He was very scared to get on that plane," she told CBC News.

"But he tried to fight his fear, because he didn't want to go on it anymore," she said. "But he wanted to make a living for his wife and his daughter, and we were all so proud of him because he made that big step to go on that plane again, which he didn't want to."

She added: "His family meant the world to him."

Tibbo was one of two Newfoundlanders killed on the flight. Mike Rideout, an electrician, had lived in Mount Pearl, and like Tibbo commuted regularly for work in Canada's North.

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Ches Tibbo turned 49 Saturday, the day he was killed in a plane crash in Nunavut. (Courtesy Pam Pardy Ghent)

Rideout, 65, an electrician, had survived the same 2008 flight, but had suffered hypothermia at the time, as well as an enduring fear of flight.

"I've always known it could happen," his wife, Anne Rideout, told CBC News Monday.

"He told me when you get on these planes there's no guarantee," she said, adding that her husband had told her, "I can't stop living. I have to do what I have to have to do."

Rideout had also survived another plane crash, about 30 years ago in Churchill Falls, in central Labrador.

Anne Rideout said her husband planned to retire this December, and that they were planning next year to fulfill a dream to one day travel to Ireland.

"I'd give anything for him to be here," she said.

Salt of the earth

Pam Pardy Ghent described Tibbo as the salt of the earth, and a man who always responded to a request for help. She said Tibbo was heading back to Nunavut after dealing with another tragedy.

"His sister died just two weeks ago," she said. "He flew home for her funeral and he was going back after being a pallbearer at his sister's funeral, on his birthday, he died.

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Mike Rideout, 65, an electrician,lived in Mount Pearl. ((Courtesy The Rideout family))

The flight, which had been en route from Yellowknife to Resolute, was carrying 15 people, including a crew of four. The three survivors include a seven-year-old girl, who had been travelling with her six-year-old sister to visit their grandparents.

Among those killed was acclaimed Arctic researcher Marty Bergmann, who was heading to Resolute Bay to give Prime Minister Stephen Harper a tour of a new research facility there.

A friend said Bergmann led an equally rich home life in Winnipeg.

"He would do anything for his family," said Michelle Anderson. 

"He was the kind of guy who dreamed big in all areas of his life. He had a huge skating rink that he would carefully tend all winter so he could play hockey with his sons."