Airman to be awarded posthumously for Arctic rescue
A Canadian Forces search and rescue technician who died on a mission to save two Inuit hunters in 2011 will receive a posthumous award for his bravery this fall.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea will be awarded to Sgt. Janick Gilbert posthumously, as well as to Master Cpl. Max Lahaye-Lemay and Master Cpl. Marco Journeyman, at a ceremony in London, England, in November 2012.
On Oct. 27, 2011, the three search and rescue technicians ventured into the Fury and Hecla Strait from a Hercules aircraft with a life-raft to save two men stranded in the icy waters near Igloolik, Nunavut.
The rescuers managed to save hunter David Aqqiaruq and his son, who had left Igloolik by boat the day before to hunt walrus, but reportedly had engine problems and called for help.
Gilbert, of Baie-Comeau, Que., died during the five-hour rescue.
"These brave men are truly deserving of this honour, and they embody the motto of all search and rescue technicians… That others may live," said Defence Minister Peter MacKay in a release.
"Tragically, Canada lost a hero in this daring rescue, and Sgt. Gilbert will receive the award posthumously."
Gilbert was not able to deploy his one-man life-raft after parachuting 600 metres into the Arctic waters.
According to a preliminary report released by the Canadian Forces in December 2011, had Gilbert landed the farthest away from the boat.