'You could hear it breathing': Tuktoyaktuk family faces down polar bear

'She was so in shock to see that polar bear, she was just standing there looking at it. And it didn't move. It kept on staring at her.'

'It didn't move. It kept on staring at her'

Tina Kikoak said her children were left terrified after a polar bear, about three metres long, wandered into the community of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., on Thursday. (Kyla Lucas)

A family in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., still can't believe how close they got to a polar bear that was roaming through the community Thursday. 

Tina Kikoak says five children were playing outside when one of them noticed the bear about 10 metres away. 

"You could hear it breathing," Kikoak said.

At first, the other kids didn't believe their cousin when she said a polar bear was nearby. And then they started running — and so did the "ever big" polar bear.

"That polar bear started running towards them," said Kikoak. "And one of my twins, she was maybe about six feet away from the stairs [of the house], but she was so in shock to see that polar bear, she was just standing there looking at it. And it didn't move. It kept on staring at her."

Kikoak said her niece, who was inside the house with her and the rest of the children, thought fast and grabbed a skipping rope. She then tossed one end to Kikoak's six-year-old daughter, who was still frozen in shock.

The young girl held onto the end of the rope, said Kikoak, and was pulled towards the house.

"And once she reached the stairs [my niece] grabbed her by her jacket and put her on the stairs," Kikoak said. "And that's how she saved my daughter."

Kikoak said they continued to watch the bear from inside her house. She says it came close to the local Northern store grocer, and then eventually jumped off a dock. 

Tina Kikoak said the polar bear was about 10 metres away from her kids, who were playing outside when they spotted it. She said they watched the bear roam around town before it jumped off a dock. (Kyle Lucas)

Kikoak said the children were still traumatized the next morning. 

"I kept on talking to them," she said. "I said, 'No matter what, it used to be [polar bears only showed up in] wintertime, but now it could be summertime. They could come out anywhere."

with files from Juanita Taylor and Garrett Hinchey