THUNDER BAY – Canadian Rangers have successfully gone to the rescue of three overdue fishermen from Kitchenuhmaykoosib in winds that gusted up to 45 kilometres an hour.
The search began when relatives alerted members of the band council that the men, who had gone fishing on Big Trout Lake, should have returned to the community the day before. One of the men had a medical condition that required medication and there was a concern for their safety because of the weather.
Lake conditions were potentially dangerous with waves at times reaching four to six feet in heavy winds.
The Ontario Provincial Police could not get a helicopter quickly to the remote Oji-Cree community, which is 580 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, and asked for military assistance. The Canadian Army authorized the local Canadian Ranger patrol to respond.
“This was another one of those instances where the Rangers were immediately deployed into some very dangerous conditions because lives may have been at risk,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Richardson, who commands the Canadian Rangers of Northern Ontario. “It makes us proud of our Rangers who are always ready to jump in when the community needs them.”
Two Rangers, Master Corporal Stanley Cutfeet, and Ranger Craig Sainnawap headed towards the west side of the lake by boat. They checked several locations where the men might be without success as wind speeds increased.
“We eventually found them taking shelter in a community cabin on an island,” said Master Corporal Cutfeet. “They were not that experienced with boats and they were waiting for the wind to die down.”
The Rangers safely escorted the three men in their boat back to Kitchenuhmaykoosib, taking several rest stops on the way.
The island where the men were found was only 20 kilometres from Kitchenuhmaykoosib but the trip back to the community took three hours because of the difficulty maneuvering in the high waves and windy conditions.
“Once again the Rangers did a good job,” Colonel Richardson said.