Lost Inukjuak teens survive four-day ordeal
“My advice is to try and learn the ways of the Inuit”
Two teenage hunters from Inukjuak are “very lucky” to be alive after they become lost on the land for four days without food or supplies.
One remains in a Montreal hospital, where he is being treated for frostbite.
On Jan. 28, 15-year-old Willie Nastapoka and 17-year-old Kasudluak Kasudluak left Inukjuak on snowmobile to go polar bear hunting for the day.
When the pair didn’t return that evening, their parents contacted the community’s hunter support program, who sent out a search team.
“[The boys] had been seen going inland the day they got lost, so the next morning, a number of people on skidoos went out following their tracks,” said Simeonie Nalukturuk, a local ranger.
During the search, the temperature dipped to about -50 C with the windchill, Nalukturuk said.
That’s when the community became worried, he said, because the boys were inexperienced hunters without much food or the tools to make a shelter.
It’s thought that Kasudluak and Nastapoka became separated during their third night out on the land.
Kasudluak continued walking, while Nastapoka removed his jacket and dug a hole in the snow to protect himself from the wind and cold.
And that’s where he was found Jan. 31, more than 30 kilometres from the boys’ abandoned snowmobile.
Nastapoka was found suffering from hypothermia and severe frostbite to his feet, said Nalukturuk, who was communicating with the team from search and rescue headquarters in Inukjuak.
The 15-year-old was medevaced out by an Air Inuit Twin Otter equipped with skis to enable it to land nearby.
“We were in contact by satellite phone when the plane was landing,” Nalukturuk said. “We were so happy to hear that, the boy’s family, everyone in the village.”
Kasudluak was found sometime later that evening, travelling on foot inland, about halfway between Inukjuak and Umiujuaq.
He was flown to Puvirnituq to be treated at the Inuulitsivik hospital there, and released a few days later.
Nastapoka remains in a Montreal hospital where he is being treated for sever frostbite to his toes.
Nalukturuk called the boys “very lucky” to have survived the ordeal and emphasized the important of traditional Inuit knowledge.
“My advice is to try and learn the ways of the Inuit, like making a shelter, knowing the land and the ways of the snow,” he said. “If young people learn these traditions they won’t get lost.”