A search group in Tuktoyaktuk has no deadline for ending its mission to find community member Ernest Raymond, who has been missing since last week.
The search is a community effort — with countless cooks donating food to the volunteers walking along the shores, flying drones and out in boats in the harbour.
“It’s actually a little overwhelming, the amount of support we’ve been getting to keep this going,” says Tyrone Raddi, a community member involved in the search.
He adds this is part of what makes Tuktoyaktuk so special, the community’s dedication to one another.
Raddi says he has known Raymond his entire life, crediting him as a skilled fisherman and a generous community member.
“When you’re in Tuk, we all know everyone here, we’re all pretty close,” he says.
From rescue operation to recovery
This comes after the RCMP announced the search and rescue mission was called off, and is now in recovery mode after search efforts over the weekend were unsuccessful.
“This is a difficult time for the community of Tuktoyaktuk. We are working hard to try to collect any information and evidence as to Ernest Raymond’s whereabouts and provide his loved-ones as to what happened. Our thoughts are with the family at this time,” says Sgt. Chris MacDonald, Tuktoyaktuk detachment commander, in a news release.
Raddi says he feels switching the search effort to recovery is premature as the community is still hopeful.
“We don’t like to give up too soon on our membership, on our people in our community because we’ve known to survive in extreme conditions,” Raddi says.
Raddi says the community has been in contact with the RCMP and other search groups, sharing information. But since the search has been deemed a recovery mission it has “limited the tools available” to the search.
However, he adds that many Canadian Rangers involved in the search are now local volunteers, who continue to search on their own.
Background of the search
Police say they received a call shortly before 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 16, saying Raymond was missing. He reportedly had not been seen in the community for “several days”.
Officers went to a camp at Reindeer Point he is known to visit and found his 14-foot aluminum boat missing.
Tuktoyaktuk RCMP says it launched a search and rescue with community members, the Canadian Rangers, Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, Transport Canada, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association.
A boat was discovered, believed to be Raymond’s, around midnight on Friday but there was no sign of the man.
CASARA continued aerial searches over the weekend, with negative results, the release says.
Any residents with information can contact Tuktoyaktuk RCMP at 977-1111 or Raddi at (867) 678-5876.
With files from Francis Tessier-Burns.