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Cambridge Bay salutes search-and-rescue crew

The Hamlet of Cambridge Bay set aside the evening of June 24 to show gratitude to the community's search-and-rescue crew.

Among those to show up for the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay's search-and-rescue appreciation evening at the community hall on June 24 were, standing from left, MLA Jeannie Ehaloak, George Naikak Hakongak, Brandon Goudey, Patrick Vandevalk, Jasber Dhillon, Kevin Evetalegak, Rosabelle Klengenberg and Mayor Pamela Gross. Seated, from left, George Pameok Angohiatok, Bessie Omilgoetok and Jimmy Sr. Haniliak. photo courtesy of Marla Limousin

“Our community has an outstanding search-and-rescue operation, and they certainly were put to task this past month,” senior administrative officer Marla Limousin said in regards to two major search-and-rescue missions that safely brought home three missing men.

“We wanted to show (the searchers) that the community appreciates their commitment to the people and recognizes the many hours away from their families. We're also appreciative of the families that support them.”

George Pameok Angohiatok cuts the cake during the search and rescue appreciation evening at the Luke Novoligak Community Hall on June 24. photo courtesy of Marla Limousin

Rosabelle Klengenberg started out in a support role almost a decade ago. She'd make meals and snacks for the searchers. She later took training and now goes out on the land herself, along with her husband Bobby.

“The appreciation (night) was very honourable for the volunteers that take the time and effort to do search-and-rescue on their time. They risk their lives for people that are out on the land,” said Klengenberg, who's now a coordinator, helping to marshal the squad needed when residents go missing.

“Thank you for recognizing us,” she said of the municipality's gesture.

To cultivate a new generation of volunteers, Klengenberg suggested that a “buddy system” be used to pair the most experienced searchers with newcomers.

There's a corps of about eight regular searchers who begin an initial mission but if the search has to be expanded by the third day, there's between 50 and 70 people in Cambridge Bay who can be relied on to lend a hand, said Beverly Maksagak, who's also a search-and-rescue coordinator.