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Searchers find discarded shelter, food

Casey Lessard
Northern News Services
Published Monday, December 12, 2011

Searchers remained hopeful of finding missing Kimmirut mayor Jamesie Kootoo, 67, after a snow shelter and the remains of two caribou were found Dec. 2.

"They're still hopeful," Const. Denis Lambe said on Dec. 8. "They found two carcasses and the remnants of an old snow shelter, but that could be from whenever. No one has confirmed if there were any hunters in that area. It's just speculation that it may be him."

Searchers were not able to work on foot Dec. 7 due to weather, or in the air due to a plane with blown-out tires blocking the runway, Lambe said.

Sgt. Jimmy Akavak, who is in charge of community policing for Nunavut and originally from Kimmirut, is co-ordinating the search to ensure a grid system is used to effectively search.

"He knows the area really well," Lambe said of his Iqaluit-based colleague.

The community plans to search until Kootoo or his remains are found, he said.

Kootoo left the community Nov. 26 to hunt caribou and was expected to return the same day.

Twelve volunteers, most of them experienced hunters, left Iqaluit on snowmobile Thursday and Friday to assist in the search after a formal request for assistance was submitted Wednesday. Upon arrival, they started searching a large swath of land in a grid pattern north of Kimmirut included in a zone determined by the distance Kootoo could cover with the fuel he had available.

"We're trying to move down closer to Kimmirut so we can support them on areas that potentially have not been covered," Jimmy Noble Jr., who is co-ordinating the Iqaluit effort, said.

Concerned members of the public have donated, and are encouraged to continue to donate, cash and food to support the search effort. Volunteers with snowmobiles and proper overnight gear are welcome as well.

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