Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut July 04, 2018 - 2:05 pm

Nunavut man dies in Kivalliq polar bear attack

Arviat father protected his children from attack, relatives say

An Arviat family was visiting Sentry Island, 10 kilometres east of Arviat, when a polar bear attacked and killed a 31-year-old man. (GOOGLE MAPS IMAGE)
An Arviat family was visiting Sentry Island, 10 kilometres east of Arviat, when a polar bear attacked and killed a 31-year-old man. (GOOGLE MAPS IMAGE)

An Arviat man who died during a polar bear attack is being remembered as a hero for protecting his children.

The 31-year-old man was gathering eggs with his children on Sentry Island, about 10 kilometres off the coast of Arviat, on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 3, when a polar bear approached the group.

Relatives say the man put himself between his children and the bear, but was mauled and later died from his injuries. He was unarmed at the time of the attack.

Nunavut RCMP responded to the incident, at which point another individual on the island killed the animal, police said in a news release on July 4.

Arviat police and the Nunavut Coroner Service continue to investigate the man’s death.

The community of Arviat, the southernmost village along western Hudson Bay, is accustomed to seeing polar bears as they migrate north, though there have not been any polar bear-related deaths in the region since 1999.

But with an increase in polar bear visits—there were 380 sightings recorded in Arviat in 2017—comes increased concerns for public safety and the protection of residents’ property.

The victim’s uncle, Gordy Kidlapik, said that polar bear excursions hosted to the south in Churchill, Manitoba, have removed the bears’ fear of humans, and lead to the potential for more dangerous encounters.

Since 2010, the hamlet of Arviat, supported by the World Wildlife Foundation, has employed a polar bear monitor, tasked with patrolling the community through the autumn and early winter to protect residents from nuisance bears.

The Government of Nunavut has added to those efforts, by looking at different deterrent methods.

But neither the GN nor the hamlet would comment on the July 3 attack or say if they plan to introduce new measures to protect residents.

Nunavut’s new premier, Joe Savikataaq, lobbied hard as environment minister to increase the total allowable harvest of western Hudson Bay polar bears as a way to better manage the population and threats to communities along the coast.

Earlier this year, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board decided to increase the total allowable harvest by four, bringing Kivalliq’s quota to 38 bears per year.


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(54) Comments:

#1. Posted by Ours Not Yours on July 04, 2018

Poor children, I can’t imagine the trauma that they are going through. I hope they remember their father as a hero.
Will the Government be held accountable? IIRC the government had reduced the quota to 8 against the wishes of all Inuit Organizations. Safety was a big concern then and is still a big issue to this day.

#2. Posted by uvaga on July 04, 2018


#3. Posted by Jessie Kaludjak on July 04, 2018

Ouch! Ah aah!! And the pain we feel is nothing compared to that of his mother, father, siblings and especially his children. Stop the damned planned polar bear tourism in Churchill!  It was just a matter of time before this happened, we all knew it! We warned of it.

Even though it is not our doing, we are paying for the greed of that iggit in Churchill who feeds the bears to attract them so he can make money off tourists. He’s probably not even a born and raised Manitoban, he is giving Churchill a bad name.

Yes some of my comments are born out of anger but how else will we be heard?? We speak all the time of the dangers but no one listens, are the higher uppers waiting for things to escalate?

#4. Posted by Free on July 04, 2018

Aitaa for the families…

Now comes my negativity…
“Nunavut’s new premier, Joe Savikataaq, lobbied hard as environment minister to increase the total allowable harvest of western Hudson Bay polar bears as a way to better manage the population and threats to communities along the coast.”

Who’d he have to lobby as Environment Minister?  Communities wanted the increased TAH, so not them…
Maybe the MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT had to lobby his staff?  Or maybe the MINISTER of ENVIRONMENT had to lobby the Federal Government?  I mean… who is ultimately responsible for polar bear management?

#5. Posted by Peter on July 04, 2018

Most of these tourists don’t know or understand Polar Bears!  They have a Disney fantasy about polar bears, cute and cuddly, even put your hand on its paw like this picture and think it’s something special in the tourist mind, when it’s something else. They lose their fear of man.

There are so many polar bears now, and the tourism industry has grown and some of these companies break the law by feeding them to attract them, to get their tourists to see them up close.
This is very dangerous, there are more bears out there like this one that is not afraid or cautious around people after learning to associate people with being fed and being up close to people. More defence kills needed, more needs to be done to drive them away and re-teach the bears to be scared of people. So many close calls over the years and now someone is dead. I feel terrible for the family, my heart and prayers for the family.

#6. Posted by AnnRose Pilakapsi on July 04, 2018

Kill all damn bears in Nunavut and protect the people in Nunavut if Greenpeace wants them around give it to them for there damn pets. No one is allow to die in a tragic way. 😭💔

#7. Posted by Very sad on July 04, 2018

My deepest condolences to the family for their loss, i can’t even images the trauma the children have to go through witnessing the father was attacked by a deadly bear. So sorry to hear and they have to live with trauma rest of there life’s with nightmares. Remember your father was a hero, he saved your life.
We do not have enough of mental health support and trauma counselling in Nunavut for children and the coroner who used to hold the GN accountable and support the grieving families was silenced. Who cares??? Very sad.

#8. Posted by Donna k from ottawa on July 04, 2018

So sorry to hear this! Hopefully his children will be able to find the strength and courage to remember their dad as a good father, a strong and courageous man who loved them and did everything to protect them. I hope when they are older and have children of their own,  they tell how and why he died , and they realize they have a hero in him. May he rest in peace. My condolences to all his family and friends

#9. Posted by Piitaqanngi on July 04, 2018

That industry will fight tooth and nail to protect its cash cow. There’s simply too much money to be lost if the polar bear tours are stopped. How can we little Inuit be heard against their huge marketing budgets? There must be a way for us to counter their campaigns and come up with our own way Inuit style.

#10. Posted by uvaga on July 04, 2018

our elders are talking on the radio, it is our food, it is our land, we will shoot the bears our way, Inuk way, sorry got mad earlier and should have been damn bears, leave us alone, we will shoot the bears and eat.

#11. Posted by Inu hunter on July 04, 2018

They were on an island known to have bears, he wasn’t carrying his rifle. What do you think can happen?? Blaming Manitoba is so stupid, you go out on the land be prepared for these things to happen if you put your rifle Down.

Poor kids though. But that’s the way of the world. Dog eat dog

#12. Posted by DESPERATE on July 05, 2018

As of July 4,2018 All Arviat Hunters will shoot / Kill Polar Bears that landed to main ground in 3 mile diameter as per CB Radio talk. Over 300 inuit / kabloonaas agreed on the situation. NO QUOTAS / NO REGULATION / NO RULES. KILL KILL KILL Ursus maritimus. ” Inuit Alert ”

#13. Posted by Sad Situation on July 05, 2018

#12 Is that an IQ thing or? 

Give up the blame game people. It was an accident. Not everything happens for a reason.

#14. Posted by Ours Not Yours on July 05, 2018


The minister of environment is ultimately responsible for total allowable harvest numbers.

I am guessing his staff held him back. Bureaucracy at its finest.

#15. Posted by Hunter on July 05, 2018

This will always happen one day again in the near future in Nunavut , sure go for walks without a gun crazy, don’t leave your boat while out on hunts and bring a gun simple thing can happen in a second .

Aitaa for the families sorry

#16. Posted by Nunavik member on July 05, 2018

F%*K the Green Peace! Why don’t the Green Peace start living directly with damn bears, Ouch, very ouch, forget the damn Quota, drain it.

Look up to the beautiful children whom just lost a Father for their purpose of safety, very painful to learn, Stop this southern laws nonsense, they don’t even live in North and creates laws without Inuit approval! Tell them to start living in with Polar Bears if they want them alive, for what?! they are not cute, dangerous animal alive.

My deepest condolences to the poor children that just lost a Father, and their direct families. We love you <3

#17. Posted by sled dog on July 05, 2018

Condolences to this mans family.

I would be remiss to say some of the comments like kill all the bears is idiotic and stupid. Yes, I am thinking of you poster #2 and #6.

#18. Posted by Markie Dan ( Rankin Inlet ) on July 05, 2018

# 11,
I agree and respect what you say, but in their grief people can say
Back in the day, my friend fell of a cliff and broke his back, he refused to
use ropes or any equipment, listened to no one.
He died a month later, his family at first blaming everyone except him.
Sure if that is what you want, but don’t be surprised if all kinds of
allowances are withdrawn, after all it is their money , they can do
what they want with their money.

#19. Posted by Observer on July 05, 2018

#14, you are incorrect. While the Minister of Environment is responsible for *enforcing* the Total Allowable Harvest, it’s the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board that sets the actual numbers.

Section 5.6.16 of the Nunavut Agreement: “Subject to the terms of this Article, the NWMB shall have sole authority to establish, modify or remove, from time to time and as circumstances require, levels of total allowable harvest or harvesting in the Nunavut Settlement Area.”

The only time the Minister or the Department gets to change things on their own in “urgent and unusual circumstances”, as per section 5.3.24, which is what was used to close down hunting of caribou on Baffin Island until the NWMB changed the number allowed to be harvested.

#20. Posted by Inuk on July 05, 2018

That’s why green peace wants to keep animals, they would rather let people die

#21. Posted by bob on July 05, 2018

Sad incident but doesn’t change the fact the only responsible person for this is the late father. How irresponsible of him to take his children out in an area known to have dangerous wildlife and not carry any weapon for protection? He did pay for his mistake, but at the highest of prices. In such sad moments, it is easy to let grief mislead us to blame the wrong source, but please quit trying to associate this with Manitoba or the government. You go into a polar bear zone with no protection, then you have just yourself to blame!

#22. Posted by monty sling on July 05, 2018

an ultimate sacrifice. he is a hero. i wish many ppl would love their children as much as he did. he cared for what he brought into the world and now this? call him what you want or think of him what you think. this man is a hero who gave an ultimate sacrifice; his life, so his children could live. rip young man, rip…

#23. Posted by uvaga on July 05, 2018

he had a gun, I would go on to say but I respect my family. the rest is too painful to say on the news. everybody who was on the island had a gun, the damn bear came by surprise, there was a dog, there was a gun, there was people. we have been respecting the bears, they have no spirit like us.

#24. Posted by uvaga on July 05, 2018

why can’t we enjoy our home? summer is only couple months, he was working for the Mine, 2 week’s in, 2 week’s out, take his kids and enjoy the summer. hope the kids get paid for the rest of their life.

#25. Posted by Ours not yours on July 05, 2018

Nwmb bases their recommendations on research conducted by the GN’s department of environment.

#26. Posted by Gordy on July 05, 2018

Just to clarify. I have been posting on Twitter about Churchill Wild tours for some time now. By early spring of this year I was even blocked by Churchill Wild for pointing out that their walk to look for bears is a factor in the bears losing fear of humans. You can see point by point what their activities are for tourists on their wen site. After the incident I had reminded them in anger for what the family is having to deal with now. Bears are very smart and they don’t forget that they were allowed to get very close to humans without being shot at, or shooed away. Ma’na

#27. Posted by So Lobby Dan Shewchuck? on July 05, 2018

So #14 (Observer), it’s the NWMB that MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT Joe Savikataaq had to lobby?

Whoo boy… Might make it tough to NWMB Chair and Arviat Boy Dan Shewchuck to go back to Arviat…

#28. Posted by pissed off on July 05, 2018

No 2 Uvaga.
Where do you get this idea that someone has to pay for everything?????
I understand your sorrow but this was an accident .
Secondly stop holding your hand out to the Government everytime someting bad happens.

People die every minut around the world. It`s never good for the people close to the deceased but it cannot be an excuse for another welfare hand out and the Gov or anybody else for this matter will not and cannot stop everything bad that will happen to people.

Please grow up.


#29. Posted by Observer on July 05, 2018

@Ours not yours, the NWMB uses the information provided by the GN, but the Board has the final say. Not the Minister of the Environment. The Board doesn’t “recommend” what the Total Allowable Harvest will be, they DECIDE what it will be. It’s the GN that makes the recommendations, but the Board is not obligated to do what the GN recommends. Thus the lobbying by the Minister which the Board decided not to accept.

Why is it people have such difficulty admitting they were wrong when it’s quite clear they were wrong?

#30. Posted by Inuk on July 05, 2018

It touch us all we all go out on the land, nothing anyone could do but help this family. Give room for grieving, it is a difficult time. For now so hard, leave the laws out, nobody was saying can’t kill the bear, nobody was there saying anything about TAH, it was just a bad time, wrong time, accident.  So sorry the kids lost their protector, who else will take his place -no one.  He is a hero.  RIP highest.  Wildlife is on its own,we can’t judge or assume its actions, it does what it wants.  Bears are powerful and must be respected.  Be safe and look out for one another.  It truly is a unfortunate incident.

#31. Posted by responsibility on July 05, 2018

It is not sufficient to have your firearm “nearby.” It needs to be on your person at all times when in an area known to have dangerous wildlife. Surprise or not. Tourism or not. If you are in an area known to have bears, keep your gun on your person. Keep your gun loaded. That’s what shoulder straps are for. Anything less is irresponsible. Carry your weapon to reduce the chance of this tragedy happening again.

#32. Posted by Rob on July 05, 2018

15-20 years ago we did not have this bear problem, we would see the odd bear now and then but not like today, there are so many bears now and they do not seem to be afraid of people, so many have said they were being stalked or a bear was very carious, in this community there are so many close calls it was bound to happen.

These guys commenting about don’t blame Manitoba or the government don’t know this area very well. You have not seen the changes in a short period of time, you have not lived here and seen how it is effecting us.
Other communities have one maybe two bears come into town and it’s shot right away, here we get lots of bears so much more and we do not shoot them. But these bears are learning to associate people with food, thanks to the big multimillion dollar industry in Churchill. This will happen again very soon if there are no changes. We need the GN to step up and make the changes that are needed. Regulations need to be enforced in Churchill!

#33. Posted by Janie Duncan on July 05, 2018

My condolences to the children and family.  This has been haunting me and my heart is with the children that had to witness this horrific tragedy.  God bless to you all.

#34. Posted by Respect for bravery on July 05, 2018

This man gave his life to save his children and I hope our MLA’s petition
the Feds for the highest award for bravery that Canada can award.
All the blaming is so pointless and petty.
If it ever happens I hope I have the courage of this young father !
  Was this man related to Arry Gibbons ?
  My condolences to all his family.

#35. Posted by So sorry on July 06, 2018

So sorry to hear this news! Trying to blame someone here is not the time, let them bury their family members. Asking for kids to be paid for life is not going to happen. This was a tragic event, but no one deserves pay for life.

#36. Posted by Bunch of rubes on July 06, 2018

Blame Manitoba!
Blame Greenpeace!
Blame the GN!
Blame… whoever you can!

#37. Posted by Inuk way of surviving on July 06, 2018

We’re on our own in the dangerous world out there in the wilderness. We only have ourselves to blame. Increasing quotas, stopping Churchill Wild Tours, or blaming Green Peace, Government will not make a different to the polar bears behavior, or make them less dangerous. What happens to Inuit IQ? We’ve been here for thousands of years and know how to be prepared for danger out there. Nobody is obligated to protect us…laws or not. Get real!! Get brains!

#38. Posted by Oopik on July 06, 2018

Where Inuit are being forced back into a dying culture(via IQ principles etc.), I’m just sad that this didn’t happen to green peace/tourist who feeds the bears/people who feel bad for the bear.
My deepest condolences to the family and communities who are in peril.
To anyone who hasn’t lived in Arviat your opinions are typically uninformed, unless you’ve feared for your life whilst walking within the town limits because bears are so comfortable with humans now, they walk into town.
of course Inuit take the brunt of the incident instead of those actually responsible. Keep an armed rifle with you at all times? ever heard of firearms safety? with children?

#39. Posted by Ours Not Yours on July 06, 2018

That is actually wrong. The hearing process involves the GN presenting their research to the board. The Board makes recommendations to the Minister and the minister gets to accept it, modify it or turn it down completely.

Minister Savikataaq lobbied as a regular MLA to Johnny Mike to have the quota increased. Since becoming Minister he has approved 2 increases.

Both the Board, and the Minister were wrong in 2007-08. from 38 to 8? I’m going to venture to guess that defense kills very dramatically increased after that.

#40. Posted by iRoll on July 06, 2018

#38 The tourists in Churchill aren’t feeding the bears… how dumb

#41. Posted by Skwaddy ( Iqaluit ) on July 06, 2018

# 34,
Love your comment, very well said and I hope this mans family receives
a posthumous award.
Like yourself I hate a lot of the blaming pettiness that goes on.
He could have ran, but stood his ground to save his children.
  I hope the MLA’s for Arviat get an award for this brave person!

#42. Posted by Rob on July 06, 2018

We have tried to follow the GN rules, you are right, we are on our own, even with trying to tell the people in power that things have to change and no one is listening, we are on our own and I think we need to start doing what we think will help us and make our area safe.

Time to stop listening to people that live so far away and start dealing with this on our terms.

Enough of you people who do not live here and talk down or just not listen to us.

Next time a bear is stalking people and it’s in town just shoot it, other communities do this, it’s time to look after ourselves.

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#44. Posted by Award? on July 06, 2018

#41, with all due respect to this brave man who gave his life for his children there should always be firearms in bear county especially with kids.

#45. Posted by Really? on July 06, 2018

#44 there was a firearm near by, the bear snuck up to them and there was no time to get to the firearm! Polar Bears are very smart, smarter than you.

#46. Posted by Sam on July 06, 2018

#44 are you seriously questioning this brave man’s actions that saved two kids?

You are a real piece of work!

Yes this man needs an award for putting his life on the line to save his kids! That is a real hero, maybe you would run instead?

#47. Posted by Skwaddy ( Iqaluit ) on July 06, 2018

Very true indeed. An honestly made statement.
But myself and # 34 are respecting the defence and bravery in
saving of the children. The ultimate sacrifice!!
I do not wish to say any more on this incident.

#48. Posted by Joshua on July 06, 2018

It could be one of the mid young bears..they do anything to get close to people they not afriad of people at all..we call them Avigaq..they standup to any attack…nothing to with Churchill visiter..

#49. Posted by Really on July 07, 2018

#44 when you do not know everything you should keep your trap shut.

He had a rifle with him but the bear snuck up and was right there going to the kids and there was no time, he put himself between the bear and the kids and saved them, he is a hero!

#50. Posted by Kurious Komrade on July 08, 2018

To all you people blaming the GN, what GN rules are you talking about the prohibit you from killing a bear that attacks you?

It is my understanding that under the NLCA you are permitted to kill a bear in self defense.

I don’t understand the nature of your complaint. Can anyone explain?

#51. Posted by Mel on July 08, 2018

Poor bear. He is as much at home as the man ...

#52. Posted by 45 46 47 on July 10, 2018

Yes article says there was a gun a 22. Now I’m not a expert but is a 22 suitable for bears? Pointing fingers wont help but we must understand that this guy gave his life to save 3 people very honourable father.

#53. Posted by I have heard ( Iqaluit ) on July 10, 2018

I have heard a .22 long rifle bullet has the potential to kill at a range of
  1 kilometre, a human target.
A story of long ago tells of a young Inuit woman who shot a polar bear
at point blank range, and killed it, as it was attacking their dog team.
  She used a .22 short.
However all circumstances are different.
I do hope an award is given on behalf of this brave man.

#54. Posted by hunter on July 11, 2018

When you know where to shot an animal a .22 is very dangerous, hunters up here have killed polar bears with a .22, single shot to the heart.

When you do not hunt, or only go a few times a year you might think a .22 would not kill a bear.

I agree this man who gave his life to save his children is a hero, I don’t know why some would not think he is.

I hope he receives an award and be remembered as a brave hero. He is in my book.

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