The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  AUTUMN 2002

PAGE 6

OUTFIT 110
 

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In Auyuittuq National park on Baffin Island, a backpacking guide course offered by Nunavut Tourism and the Kakivak Association is seen as a first step to help tourism benefit the local economy.

 In the summer of 2001, four men recommended by outfitters in Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq embarked on an eight-day backpack guide course with Iqaluit guide Paul Landry.

Logan said itís relatively easy to find guides who will take people out on snow machines and dog sledding trips, but for the many backpackers who visit Auyuittuq near Pangnirtung each year, the options for guides are slim.

"To just go for a walk isnít something a lot of local people do," Logan explained.  Landry, who along with his partner runs Northwinds Arctic Adventures, said there is a lot of potential in the tourism adventure travel industry and its great to see young local people show interest in it.

The main objective of the course was safety, Landry said, and to show that guides are responsible for ensuring their clients have a safe experience.

"The key focus here in the Arctic is polar bears, river crossings and the Arctic weather," he said. "Another main area is leadership, making sure people offer professional leadership and look after not just the safety skills of their group, but  also the well-being of the clients."  The course was taught in the park, so the weather dictated when and what he could teach.

Landry and the four guides, Jamesie Alivaktuk, Juta Qaqqasiq, Mosesee Duval and Jimmy Akulukjuk, went back into the park this past summer for three days to develop a marketable trip package.

Part of the objective was for them to create a brochure they could use to market what Landry calls The Arctic Circle Loop - a three-day trip that takes people to the Arctic Circle and back. Landry also wrote a guide manual that includes route descriptions, where to cross rivers, where to camp, distances and time, suggested menus, equipment and clothing. The trip brochure will go to Kakivak this week, Landry said, so it can be marketed this winter.

Auyuittuq Park was chosen for the course, Logan explained, because itís the most developed park in the region and attracts the most visitors. He would like to see a similar course for more northern parks, such as those on Ellesmere Island.

And once again the very same Paul Landry received an award for bravery at the highest level from Nunavut Commissioner Peter Irniq. Landry of Iqaluit was nominated for an incident that occurred at the end of July 2001, when he was leading a trip in Auyuittuq Park, outside of Pangnirtung.

The water was high, he said, and crossing the rivers was a challenge. The group set up camp near a glacier to wait for the water to recede. Landry was cooking breakfast at about 5 a.m. when he spotted members of another group attempting to cross the nearby river.

"I watched as one by one they were swept away," he said quietly.  Three out of five members of the group were clustered together in the water  several metres from shore in Glacier Lake, named for the glacier that keeps its waters frigid.

One person had not attempted to cross and one man, Michael Graves, was on his own in the lake about twice as far out as the others. Landry went to his own group and asked Peter Gladden, the strongest of the bunch, if he would help him attempt a rescue. Gladden, a U.S. citizen, agreed and he and Landry swam out to the cluster of three people and dragged them back to shore. Graves was not responding to shouts from the shore, so the two agreed to go back in on the condition that if either one felt they weren't going to make it, they would turn back.

 "[Graves] was alive, but I didn't know it at the time," Landry said, describing how he and Gladden dragged his body to shore. "Both Peter and I couldn't stand up. We had to crawl out of the water."

 As the two moved their limbs to try to get warm, they saw bubbles forming at Graves' mouth. They knew then he was alive. With the help of members of both  groups, park officials and his young Inuit assistant-in-training, Juta, Landry lead everyone to safety. Landry didn't speak of the incident publicly until this week because he said he  didn't feel comfortable being praised for his actions.

In December, Landry will receive the Governor General's award for bravery in Ottawa.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is offering $50,000 toward a scientific hunt for beluga whales in James Bay. The money is in addition to the $50,000 announced in June to help Nunavik hunters organize a hunt after their quotas were slashed.

DFO reduced harvest quotas to 15 whales per community to protect the dwindling beluga population. Biologists had warned that without cutting quotas, the animals would become extinct within 15 years.

Under the management plan, each of the 14 communities can harvest a maximum of 15 beluga from Hudson Strait and James Bay. Hunting is prohibited in Ungava Bay and the eastern part of Hudson Bay. Because the announcement came late in the season, DFO offered $50,000 to Makivik Corporation to help the communities that needed to redirect their hunt. It was to be used for things such as gasoline and boat rentals.

 

 

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