Volunteers scale back searches for two missing Nunavut men

Bernard Pujuardjok of Kugaaruk last seen Dec. 5, Jamesie Kootoo of Kimmirut missing since Nov. 26


(Updated Dec. 22)

Police say hope has faded for a Kugaaruk man missing on the land since early December.

Bernard Pujuardjok was first reported missing from Kugaaruk Dec. 5, when he was believed to be headed north towards Taloyoak.

Since then, ground and air searches have covered 240 square kilometres around Pujuardjok’s home community, revealing footprints believed to belong to Pujuardjok as well as a grub box, a Dec. 20 news release from the RCMP said.

But searchers have had to work in difficult weather conditions, and temperatures have dipped as low as -50 C on some days.

Search organizers believe that Pujuardjok has most likely not survived, the news release said.

RCMP members have now scaled back their search efforts, while organizers are treating it as a recovery operation.

Efforts to locate Kimmirut’s missing mayor, Jamesie Kootoo, have also been scaled back to a community search, the RCMP said Dec. 21.

Kootoo was last seen that day at Qurvik Lake, but failed to return home from what was supposed to be a one-day caribou hunting trip.

Kimmirut search and rescue will continue its search through the holidays with the help of donations. Those who wish to make a contribution can call (867) 939-2416.

And a search in Nunavik turned into a recovery effort this week, where search and rescue teams in Akulivik discovered the frozen and buried body of Samwillie Amaamatuaq, 34.

Amaamatuaq walked out on the land Nov. 29 and never returned.

Police and Nunavut Search and Rescue continue to remind people going out on the land to be well prepared.

Bring spare food, they say, as well as clothes, gas and shelter in case you get lost or your equipment breaks down.

And they’re advising hunters and travellers on the land to file a trip plan with their local SAR committee or with family members before they head out.

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