A Montreal researcher and local Inuit in Arviat, Nunavut, hope a new traditional skills program aimed at youth will help curb the rising number of search and rescue operations across the territory.
Dylan Clark, a member of McGill University’s Climate Change Adaptation Research Group, has analyzed search and rescue data from the past decade.
“There’s been a pretty steady increase — more than doubling, essentially,” said Clark. “It’s a real community concern.”
In 2006, Clark said Nunavut Protective Services was involved in 111 searches — each of which may have been for a single individual or a group. Less than a decade later, in 2015, that number had jumped to 251 searches.
“We’re really looking at why search and rescues are happening and what can be done to prevent it.”
One of the keys to understanding how to prevent searches is knowing why people end up overdue on trips or lost out on the land.
Clark analyzed 202 search and rescue operations from Nunavut in 2013 and 2014 and found 53 per cent of issues were caused by issues with equipment.
“That could be anything from a snowmobile overheating and seizing up to an axle in an ATV breaking,” he said.
Searches occur most often in the spring and fall, Clark said, when there is more chance travellers will become stuck in slushy or muddy areas or end up stranded by shifting ice floes.
Even those with years of experience and vast traditional knowledge can end up thrown off course as a warming climate may be subtly changing the weather indicators Inuit have relied on for generations, with ice conditions becoming more unpredictable.
Recently, Nunavut MLA Pauloosie Keyootak survived on the land for more than a week, with his son and nephew — prompting a search that would include volunteers from three Baffin communities and garner attention across the country.
“There’s so many people willing to volunteer to go out and work for the search committees that people are coming back safe,” Clark said.
But, he said, it’s important to remember that most searchers — who scour the land for friends and family — face emotional, as well as physical burnout. To read more click here.
The 2016 Australian and New Zealand Search and Rescue Conference (ANZSAR); Land, Sea & Air will be held at the Jupiters Hotel, Gold Coast on the 1 June 2016.
CLICK HERE to view the Conference Program with an impressive line up of keynote speakers and targeted forums it makes this the premier conference to attend in the Oceania region.
To register for the conference CLICK HERE.
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