Sanirajak celebrates after searchers find missing teenager safe and sound

A teenager who was missing for nearly a week near Sanirajak, Nunavut, was found Wednesday night. The community celebrated.

The 15-year-old was found near a ranger's cabin about 45 kilometers from town by a search and rescue volunteer

Group of people in outdoor clothes, arms up in celebration.
Search and rescue volunteers in Sanirajak, Nunavut, looked for the missing teen for nearly a week before he was found. (Submitted by Harry Kadlutsiak)

There was a fireworks display on Wednesday evening in Sanirajak, Nunavut, and the community had a big reason to celebrate  — a teenager who had been missing for nearly a week had been found.

The 15-year-old was spotted near a ranger's cabin about 45 kilometres from town where he'd taken refuge.

Harry Kadlutsiak, a search and rescue volunteer, was the one who found him. Kadlutsiak had left Sanirajak early Wednesday morning on his ATV but had to go back to town to fix a flat tire. When he went back out after some repairs, he decided to search down the shoreline.

That's where he saw the teen.

"When I was getting close to the area I was able to see the cabin and I thought I saw an inukshuk and started heading towards it but when it moved, I had to stop my Honda ... and wait. Then, [the teen] started running towards me," Kadlutsiak said in Inuktitut.

"I didn't approach him right away because we were taught when we find someone not to approach them right away. When he got closer he ran to me and I ran to him also, we hugged and started crying."

This was Kadlutsiak's first time volunteering with search and rescue. He said he's glad he got involved.

Kadlutsiak and the teen were flown back to Sanirajak by a search and rescue helicopter.

When they arrived, they were greeted by a crowd of people welcoming the teen home. 

The community had been searching since Saturday for the young man after he went out hunting on Friday and didn't return.

The teenager had left the community on an ATV with a friend to spend the day at Hall Lake, which is about 46 kilometres from the community.

Search and rescue volunteers were informed the boy was missing on Saturday when his friend came back to town without him. 

A search from dawn til dusk

Paul Haulli, Sanirajak's acting senior administrative officer, said the boys got separated when one turned back on the trail to find something he'd dropped.

While the teen was missing, Haulli said some feared he didn't have proper clothing. In the past week, temperatures have dipped below 0 C, according to Environment Canada. 

Haulli said at the time some people from Sanirajak took time off from work to join the search. 

He also said Sanirajak has experienced a lot of tragedy recently, with several recent funerals and the murder of a beloved community member, Savanna Pikuyak, in Ottawa. Volunteers from the community had been leaving at 6:30 a.m. to look for the boy until dark.

Written by Amy Tucker with files from Karen Pikuyak and Jackie McKay