Local ground searchers continue quest for lost Nunavut teen
Canadian Forces aircraft pull out, but Cape Dorset searchers press on
The search for missing Cape Dorset teen Saali Toonoo continued Aug. 31 as the Nunavut RCMP and Search and Rescue’s ground unit combed the shoreline outside the south Baffin community.
Toonoo, 18, failed to return home from a kayak trip Aug. 27, after he set out alone Aug. 26.
A police statement said local crews began their search Aug. 27, and found Toonoo’s overturned kayak, paddle and one boot on Aug. 28.
The Canadian Force’s Joint Task Force Atlantic said on Twitter Aug. 30 they were calling off the two Hercules aircraft and two Cormorant helicopters that they had sent Aug. 29 to help with the search
Local RCMP and ground search and rescue crews would take over the search, the JRCC said.
#JRCCHalifax has stood down the air assets for missing kayaker in Tellik Inlet, NU. Search has been turned over to RCMP and Ground SAR.
— JTF Atlantic (@JTFAtlantic) August 30, 2016
The Nunavut RCMP confirmed that the JRCC has suspended its air search.
“The search in Cape Dorset is continuing. JRCC has suspended their air search for the time being, but the ground and boat patrols and searches are continuing in the community. We’ll reassess over the next few days as to what our plans will be,” Sgt. David Lawson said.
Toonoo’s family, who contacted Nunatsiaq News early on Aug. 31, said they were about to set out to continue their search.
Toonoo’s biological father, Isacci Manning, said he has been out searching almost every day since his son was reported missing.
“The first day I went on foot to look for him on land in case he made it to land. And yesterday I went out again with my common-law, hoping to find him dead or alive, either way, so we could accept that,” Manning said.
“Today I will be looking for his body underwater. The area where we are is not so deep, so we can easily drag a hook on the bottom of the ocean, I hope.”
Manning also said he was “deeply upset” by comments allegedly made Aug. 29 by Cape Dorset Mayor Padlaya Qiatsuq on local radio.
“He made us feel hopeless about finding my son, and said that [my son] will never be found and we may as well stop the search,” Manning said.
“We were working so hard to find [Toonoo] or his body, and then the mayor said my [Toonoo] would never be found. I felt so down… I’ve been trying to contact the deputy mayor and counselors but even in a small town like Cape Dorset, they’re hard to get a hold of.”
The mayor has not yet returned calls from Nunatsiaq News, so we are unable to confirm what he said on local radio about the search.
But Manning said the mayor’s comments make the family’s current situation even more difficult to deal with.
Out of respect for the ongoing search and for Toonoo’s family, the Government of Nunavut announced Aug. 31 that it would cancel the Corrections Act consultations scheduled later the same day for Cape Dorset at 7 p.m.
“We’ll try to engage community members at a more appropriate time. Our thoughts are with the family and community during this difficult time,” the GN statement said.