Two men are receiving the Governor General’s Medal of Bravery for staging a rescue of an Iqaluit hunter who fell through the ice near Frobisher Bay, Nunavut.
In March of 2011, helicopter pilot James Kitchen of Squamish, B.C. and William Ward of Calgary flew to the Cyrus Field Bay near the mouth of Frobisher Bay, where David Alexander had gone through the ice on his snowmobile.
His hunting partner, Jimmy Noble Jr., called for help with a satellite phone.
Kitchen flew to the site and hovered the helicopter over the water, while Ward pulled Alexander to safety, in spite of the high winds.
Ward is receiving the Medal from Governor General David Johnston at a ceremony at Rideau Hall this morning. Kitchen will receive his medal at a later date.
‘I’ve never experienced it in my life’
Alexander and Noble had been hunting for polar bears when they unexpectedly hit soft ice, and Alexander’s snowmobile went down.
“I've been out hunting over 20, close to 25 years,” Alexander said at the time. “I've never experienced it in my whole life. and it gives me a second thought, I've got to be more careful after today, especially on sea ice."
Alexander managed to keep himself above water by using his qamotik, a wooden sled pulled behind his snowmobile, and some empty jerry cans as flotation.
It was just good luck that a helicopter happened to be in the area at the time, and made it to the scene about three and a half hours after the call.
Alexander told the CBC he felt lucky to survive.