Iqaluit RCMP broaden search for missing homeless man
Police, GN Protection Services mount city-wide search for Benjamin Palluq
The search for missing Iqaluit resident Benjamin Palluq broadened to a community-wide effort March 26, when members of the RCMP and Nunavut Search and Rescue opened a temporary office to co-ordinate search volunteers throughout the city.
“The community has shown overwhelming support for him,” said Sgt. Yvonne Niego, spokesperson for the Iqaluit RCMP detachment. “He could be anywhere within or outside the community limits.”
Palluq, a 44-year-old Inuk man with no fixed address, is well known to city residents. A family member in Iqaluit reported to police March 21 that he had not been seen for “two to three weeks,” the RCMP said.
His disappearance raised concerns among community residents and health officials, as he is known to be on medication to treat an epileptic condition, and possibly other health problems.
Palluq may also have mental health issues, RCMP said.
Described as slim, five feet, six inches tall, Palluq has short black hair and brown eyes, and missing one front tooth, according to RCMP. He was last seen wearing a black coat and black pants.
Efforts by RCMP failed to turn up any leads through the weekend and following few days.
Informal search efforts by local volunteers, mostly employees of the NCC Group, grew into a formal effort March 26, after volunteer leaders met that morning with RCMP, Nunavut Search and Rescue, and officials from the City of Iqaluit and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Niego said.
RCMP and search and rescue are staging search efforts out of the Nunavut wildlife office in the city centre.
Steven Baillie, manager of emergency response and recovery for Nunavut’s protection services department, is heading up the search with RCMP Sgt. Jean-Guy Lalonde of the Iqaluit detachment.
All residents interested in helping with the search are welcome to sign on at the office, where they will be assigned to work in teams.
Each will search a specific area of the city, and report results back to the office.
More than 50 residents took part in the early stages of the effort, shortly after the office opened at 1:30 p.m., Niego said.
Niego could not say how long the search would last.
“It will depend on the health and welfare of all the volunteers,” she said. “As long as there’s a will, and the resources are available.”
Teams just outside the city limits are equipped with radios and Spot tracking devices, “so we can track them online with GPS, and see if they’re going anywhere we haven’t,” Baillie said.
Niego and Baillie credited employees of NCC Group for taking the first steps to organize a community-wide search.
“They started searching around their own building a couple of days ago, and then put out a call to the public on Facebook,” Baillie said.
Police are asking members of the public to call the Iqaluit RCMP detachment if they have any information related to Palluq’s whereabouts.
All residents willing to contribute to the effort can report to the RCMP at the wildlife office in building 913, next to the Four Corners intersection Iqaluit.