2017

Out in the Cold

Looking back at CCGS Des Groseilliers’ successful rescue near Pangnirtung, Nunavut

 
Rescue team and rescued Inuit – L to R: Helo pilot Guillaume Carpentier, Rescue Specialist Maude Perreault, Simeonic Naujuq, Jolly Maniapik, Rescue Specialist Carole Cantin. In front, Seaman Louis Bradette.Rescue team and rescued Inuit – L to R: Helo pilot Guillaume Carpentier, Rescue Specialist Maude Perreault, Simeonic Naujuq, Jolly Maniapik, Rescue Specialist Carole Cantin. In front, Seaman Louis Bradette.
 
 

In the early evening of September 23, 2015, CCGS Des Groseilliers was at anchor near Pangnirtung on icebreaking standby when it was tasked by Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Halifax to assist in a search and rescue (SAR) case involving two overdue hunters from the community of Pangnirtung. As daylight was going to fade in the next few hours, the ship quickly deployed its helicopter, CG 358, to start searching for the two missing persons, based on the information provided by the rescue coordination centre. As darkness fell, the helicopter that had been searching for two hours was forced to return to the vessel for the night. The search would resume the following morning.

On September 24, at first light, the Canadian Forces Hercules provided a precise location and the Des Groseilliers made its way to the closest possible position and once again deployed CG 358. Within a half hour, the helicopter had located the missing hunters and delivered them safely aboard CCGS Des Groseilliers, then proceeded to sail back to Pangnirtung.

Approximately seven hours later, Simeonic Naujuq and Jolly Maniapik were delivered to the shores of this remote Arctic community where they were greeted by many relieved and happy faces of their friends and families.

CCGS Des Groseilliers’ commanding officer Captain Michel Dufresne and his crew were invited to a small reception to be held the following day, September 25, 2015, to meet members of the community of Pangnirtung following the rescue of Simeonic and Jolly.

Here is a short summary and reflection by Captain Dufresne about that event:

“After the rescue of Simeonic and Jolly, the people of the community of Pangnirtung invited us to a gathering to officially thank the CCG. I expected a number of people to attend, but I did not anticipate that the village leaders would make this meeting so official. There must have been more than 200 people in the room, along with 25 members of the vessel’s crew.

Many people came to express their thanks and gratitude, including Johnny Mike, the Nunavut government representative in Pangnirtung, the mayor of the village, and the Coast Guard Auxiliary representative for Pangnirtung.

 
CCGS Des Groseilliers Captain Michel Dufresne presents the CCG crew members directly involved in the rescue of Jolly and Simeonic. CCGS Des Groseilliers Captain Michel Dufresne presents the CCG crew members directly involved in the rescue of Jolly and Simeonic.
 
 

When I was given the opportunity to speak, I took the microphone to express, on behalf of myself and the crew, our great respect for their ability to survive the conditions that Simeonic and Jolly had to endure. One of the most frequent comments shared with our crew today was that, if one of our crew were to end up in a similar situation, few of us would have fared as well as these two men did, after spending two days in the cold, while wet, lightly clothed, and without food.

I also told Jolly and Simeonic that it was my great pleasure to see the two of them reunited with their families. The most important thing today was seeing Jolly hold his youngest child in his arms. I also expressed my respect for the village’s exceptional solidarity.

Finally, I wholeheartedly thanked my crew. They were the main reason that the rescue ended so well.

Gifts were then exchanged, including a superb depiction of the goddess Sedna, which I will have framed and permanently put on display onboard the vessel.

I have now served for over 30 years with the Canadian Coast Guard and am on my twentieth Arctic voyage. The village of Pangnirtung has marked me forever — yes, with the beauty of its landscape, but I also truly believe that landscape’s beauty is greatly deepened by the beauty of its people.”

L to R : Simeonic Naujuq, Captain Michel Dufresne, Jolly Maniapik and son. L to R : Simeonic Naujuq, Captain Michel Dufresne, Jolly Maniapik and son.