Police in Happy Valley-Goose Bay said they have recovered the body of a man whose canoe capsized in frigid water in central Labrador on Wednesday night.

RCMP aren't confirming who it is, but former Innu president David Nuke has confirmed to CBC News that it is former Innu Nation Grand Chief Joseph Riche.

Riche was part of a group of four hunters who were in an area known as Park Lake, which is home to a fly-in fishing lodge. The pond is about 80 kilometres southeast of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.


Joseph Riche, a former grand chief of the Innu Nation, played a key role in finalizing the New Dawn land claims agreement. (CBC)

Riche was alone in the canoe at the time, although another man required medical attention, authorities said.

Riche was grand chief of the Innu Nation when members voted in 2011 to approve the New Dawn land claims deal, which among other things included compensation for lands flooded in the 1960s for the Upper Churchill hydroelectric project. It also cleared a major hurdle for the Lower Churchill hydro project outside Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax received a call for help overnight, and dispatched a Cormorant helicopter from Gander.

"While en route, the crew was advised that in addition to the search, they would need to medevac a survivor dealing with a diabetic emergency," said CBC News reporter Matt McCann. The survivor requiring medical aid was flown to an ambulance that took him to hospital in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

A search of the area found no sign overnight of Riche, RCMP said, and a ground search continued on Thursday.

RCMP "are now focusing their efforts on the recovery of the missing person," the force said in a statement.

Another helicopter was on the scene on Thursday to help ground crews.