Kayaker rescues boy, two men from frigid water near Sanikiluaq

Mother says son is ‘doing fine’ after being airlifted to hospital

An 11-year-old boy and two men were pulled from the water outside Sanikiluaq late Wednesday. (File photo)

By Madalyn Howitt

Updated on Friday, July 1, 2022 at 12 p.m.

An 11-year-old boy “is doing fine” after he and two men were rescued from the frigid waters near Sanikiluaq by a man in a kayak late Wednesday.

Witnesses said Reginald Takatak, 11, was pulled from the lake on the south side of the hamlet, home to about 1,000 residents, as were two men who had also tried to rescue the boy but were in danger themselves.

Ulaayu Rita Crow said she was with three members of her family at the basketball court behind Nuiyak Elementary School around 9 p.m. when she heard yelling in the distance and went to see what was happening.

“It was [a] little boy who was in the water, yelling for help,” she said.

Crow said when she realized they didn’t have a way to reach the child, she tried messaging a friend for help.

When that person couldn’t get to the site, Crow posted a message on the Sanikiluaq Announcements Facebook page, alerting community members and asking for help.

“He was trying to stay afloat and he didn’t have anything to hold on to,” Crow said, adding the water was deep and very cold.

Crow said she and her family waited for assistance but “it was hard watching the little boy yelling for help, so I just started crying because I couldn’t help the little boy.”

But her Facebook post had caught the attention of other community members, and soon “a lot” of people arrived at the scene, she said.

Kenny Takatak, Reginald’s cousin, said he drove from the other side of town when he saw Crow’s social media post.

He and a few others tried to reach the boy by pushing a small boat onto the water and kicking with their feet, he said, but the group wasn’t able to get close to him.

Two other men who had tried swimming toward the boy also couldn’t reach him, Crow said, and the situation became “more stressful” as those men became tired and “almost drowned.”

Crow said a man eventually was able to get close to the two men with his kayak, pulling them out of the water with his paddle.

He then paddled over to the boy and pulled him onto his boat.

Witnesses identified the kayaker as Harry Kowcharlie.

“Never seen someone so close to dying,” Kowcharlie said when reached by Nunatsiaq News on Thursday night.

“I’d do [it] all over again, maybe use my lifejacket next time since I can’t swim.”

Crow estimated the rescue took 15 to 20 minutes and though Reginald was responsive, he was “getting unconscious from drowning and being cold at the same time.”

The boy was brought to the local health centre and later sent by air ambulance to Winnipeg Children’s Hospital, said his mother, Lottie Takatak.

Lottie, who has two other children ages seven months and 18 years old, said Reginald was playing outside when he ventured out into the water. She said her niece was able to accompany him to Winnipeg.

While the water was cold, Lottie said her son was “doing fine” when he was transported to hospital.

Several people posted on the community Facebook page expressing relief that the rescue was a success.

“So much happened today, thank God for watching over us,” wrote Elijassie Sala.

Note: This article has been updated from a previous version to identify the kayaker and to include his comments.

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(15) Comments:

  1. Posted by Qikiqtamiu on

    He took a styrofoam insulation from a construction site and use it to float around the water and got himself into danger.

  2. Posted by Truestory on

    Wish y’all non Inuit could spell “Qayaq”. Instead of “Kayak”.

    • Posted by Kayak on

      What an ignorant comment. English article, english spelling. Also, it spelled Kayak in western arctic inuit languages.

    • Posted by I wish on

      I wish non-Inuit could spell ‘Qayaq’ instead of ‘Kayak’. If you are trying to correct people, use proper grammer

      • Posted by As well as spelling… on


    • Posted by Weskit on

      Appreciate all those involved for a good ending.


    • Posted by Andy on

      That’s all you can comment to this story? Pathetic! Be happy that involved made it through this situation without severe injuries.
      It’s a great example to seeing a community united and help each other.

      Thank you all for preventing a tragedy and speedy recovery to the young fellow

    • Posted by Sikiituuq on

      I’m wondering if English word skidoo can become Inuit word Sikiituuq, can Inuit word Qayaq can become English word kayak? Just wondering. Don’t call the kettle black, until you see the pot also.

    • Posted by Reality on

      Troll. How do they spell it in Ottawa?

    • Posted by Bemused on

      Do you mean “qajaq”?

      • Posted by Yes on

        Yes the proper spelling is qajaq, it is a problem in English not just for Inuktut words, French, there’s a lot of French words that are also butchered in English, Spanish and so on.
        It’s like someone who doesn’t have time to properly spell things decided on how it should be spelled and people without really knowing the proper spelling just goes along with the misspelled word.
        Try correcting them and they lose their 💩 but misspell in English they will happily correct you.

        Qajaq 😉

        • Posted by Uqammaq on

          Between Rev Peck in syllabics and English influence, we go from oral to written. It’s always been not about spelling but about pronunciation. I do agree that you should spell it right nevertheless. Inuit called Rev Peck Uqammaq, the one who speaks well. It’s the pronunciation that was valued most.

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Kayak is an acceptable way of spelling the word in both many western dialects as well as common English which is the language of this news item.

    • Posted by E-Nook on

      Spoken like a true “E-Nook” from “E-Kal-oo-wit”

  3. Posted by Sanikiluaq on

    Even if we think the community is falling apart, this community sticks together and work together no matter how hard the situation is. It takes a community to raise a child.


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