PEAWANUK – A five-hour search for a missing Peawanuck woman ended successfully when she was found sitting without any shoes by the Winisk River.
The 21-year-old woman had been drinking when she got into a dispute with her mother and left the house to walk off into the bush.
Peawanuck is a small Cree community near Hudson Bay, about 1,335 kilometers north of Toronto. It is Ontario’s second most northerly community.
She was wearing only a light jacket when she disappeared at around 7 p.m. when the temperature was 4C.
The Canadian Army authorized the use of members of the Peawanuck Ranger patrol, who are part-time army reservists, to begin a search. They were joined by 10 community volunteers, including Chief Abraham Hunter. They searched the community, including houses where she might be, on foot, in vehicles, and on all-terrain vehicles.
“She was found just after midnight,” said Sergeant Matthew Gull, the local Ranger commander. “She was sitting at a boat launch site next to the river, which still has ice in it from the break-up”
“I was on my ATV when I located her sitting on the ground in the dark,” said Master Corporal Pamela Chookomoolin. “I sat with her for a bit and talked with her and told her people were worried and looking for her. In the end, she agreed to go with me and I took her to her sister’s house.”
The woman was not wearing any shoes when she was found. The temperature at the time was minus two. She said her feet were cold but unharmed.
“The youngest searcher was Amelia Gull, my 11-year-old daughter,” Sergeant Gull said. “She asked if she could join me. She wants to be a Junior Canadian Ranger when she turns 12.”
The Junior Canadian Rangers is a Canadian Army program for boys and girls aged 12 to 18 in remote and isolated communities across the Canadian North.
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)