4 Nunavut hunters rescued from Arctic island

Hercules circles for hours as thick fog obscures stranded hunters

2 CAF Hercules planes, Coast Guard ship and RCMP involved in search

Military spotters Paul-Andre Forgues and Brad Powers helped in the rescue. (The Canadian Forces)

Four Nunavut hunters are safe after a getting stranded on a remote island.

The rescue involved the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP, the Nunavut Emergency Measures Organization and the Canadian Coast Guard.

On August 24, four men were headed for a hunting ground in the area of Fury and Hecla Straight near Igloolik.

When the engine malfunctioned on their seven-metre freighter canoe, the travellers managed to reach a nearby island.

Group effort

"We are happy this effort had a positive outcome," said Major-General Pierre St-Amand, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

On August 24 a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130 Hercules from 435 Squadron based at 17 Wing Winnipeg was called to the scene. By coincidence the plane was already airborne for an unrelated exercise and was able to quickly reach the scene.

At 9 p.m. the region of Fury and Hecla Straight was covered in fog. The CC-130 crew searched for about three hours and stopped at 11 p.m., landing in Resolute Bay, Nunavut for the night.  

The next day at 6 a.m. a second CC-130 Hercules from 424 Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton was sent to continue the search. By 9 a.m. the plane had located the stranded hunters and crew onboard the plane dropped a radio to establish contact. 

RCMP in Igloolik launched a boat to attempt a surface rescue. The Canadian Coast Guard ship Pierre Radisson also navigated to the area to assist in the effort.  

The RCMP boat reached the island in mid-afternoon and those on board attempted to fix the freighter canoe’s engine. When that proved impossible the RCMP brought them to safety with the canoe in tow.