mi-dinos-tikivik-search

Dinos Tikivik of Iqaluit loads his snowmobile and qamutik with supplies Friday morning, preparing to join the search for Kimmirut Mayor Jamesie Kootoo, who has been missing on the land since Nov. 26. ((Paul Moore/CBC))

People in other Nunavut communities and beyond the territory’s borders are helping the search effort for missing Kimmirut Mayor Jamesie Kootoo.

Ten volunteers from Iqaluit left from the city’s wildlife office at 7 a.m. Friday by snowmobile to help in the search, and they follow in the tracks of five others who left Thursday night.

Adamie Ipeelie loaded his qamutik, or sled, with everything he needed to travel for days on the land, including blankets, mattress, and warm clothes.

He said he knows what it's like to be lost on the land and wants to do what he can to help find Kootoo, even if it means a difficult journey around Frobisher Bay.

"It's our nature to go look for someone who's lost," he said.

Kootoo, 67, left the community Nov. 26 to hunt for caribou and was expected to return the same day. Searchers found the remains of what may have been a snow shelter and a butchered caribou carcass Tuesday, but can’t be sure they belonged to Kootoo.

Iqaluit Search and Rescue was hoping for 30 people to help out, but only 15 volunteered.

Volunteer Dinos Tikivik said that even after nearly two weeks he's hoping Kootoo has managed to survive.

"I hope this is a rescue mission," he said. "I want it to be a rescue mission."

Adamie Ipeelie said he was prepared to spend the next two or three days on the land, searching.

"Hopefully we find him out there on the land somewhere over there," he said. "Unless they find him first, those people from Kimmirut."

Three people from Pangnirtung are also planning to help out with the search.

"At some point, there has to be, there probably will be a decision made, as to how much longer they will put into it," said RCMP Cpl. Dennis Lamb.

"But the word is in the community that they will search until they find Mr. Kootoo or find signs that something's happened to him."

The hamlet is still accepting donations to pay for things such as gasoline and food for the searchers.

Tommy Akavak, the fundraising co-ordinator for the search, estimates that more than $10,000 has been raised so far.

He said people from all over have phoned wanting to donate towards the search, even from as far as Toronto, and people in the hamlet are grateful for all the support they are getting.

The search has been hard on snowmobiles, so some of that money will go towards maintenance, and someone from Kuujjuaq will be sending replacement plastic runners for qamutiks.

Neevee Natsiapik of Iqaluit raised close to $4,000 this week for the search. The first $500 came through a bake sale and on Wednesday she raised $3,400 with a loonie-toonie sale.

"The whole city of Iqaluit came together very well, and it was a great success," she said.

Natsiapik said many people donated personal items and the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation gave $500.