A Labrador teen who left home last week was found frostbitten on a coastal island kilometres from her home Wednesday after paddling a canoe there with a stick.
Leanne Rich, 13, of Natuashish, spent several nights on the island, surviving snow and sub-zero temperatures by eating berries and huddling in trees, according to her aunt.
"Her feet were frostbitten. She is able to move them but she was really thirsty and really hungry and the tips of her fingers were frostbitten too. She was able to talk and tell me some of the things she did on that island," said Katie Rich on Thursday.
RCMP said it's not clear how long she was there. They said the owner of the canoe reported it missing on Saturday.
Rich said her niece, who has run away from home before, might have been trying to go to Nain to see a boy she liked, even though her mother had told her not to go there.
"She packed a bag and took that in the canoe with her. So she was able to change clothes when she was wet, but she was on her last change of clothes and was wearing a bright orange top as a skirt, and that’s the thing that search and rescue crew saw when they found her," said Rich, her voice thickening with emotion.
The teen was flown by air ambulance out of Natuashish Wednesday night and was still in hospital in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in central Labrador on Thursday.
"The whole community was so happy Wednesday, the kids, the place was packed at the clinic. Everyone wanted to know how she did it. [Leanne] said she was able to survive because she watched survival shows on television," said Rich.
The Innu community of Natuashish was founded in 2002 after residents were resettled from nearby Davis Inlet.