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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


October 5, 2002 - Issue 71


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Trio honoured for daring rescues Commissioner's awards recognize acts of bravery
by Miriam Hill - Nunatsiaq News
credits: photo by Miriam Hill - Nunatsiag News

Paul Landry, Peter Gladden and Jayco Audlakiak received commissioner's awards for bravery at the highest level this week from Nunavut Commissioner Peter Irniq.

Audlakiak, 13, was nominated for the award by his father after he saved his younger cousin Mosha Moesie Audlakiak from drowning in Qikiqtarjuaq in the summer of 1999.

The cousins were walking with some friends one afternoon when Mosha slipped and fell into the water. While the others didn't know what to do, Jayco reached in and tried to pull his cousin to safety.

"Three times he went under the water," the soft-spoken Jayco said, without making eye contact. "His mouth was blue. He drank a lot of the water."

Jayco said he would show the certificate he received to his family and friends, but added his cousin already thanked him very much for saving his life.

Paul 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.

"I realized I had gone close to the edge," he said. "I have children. And I didn't feel comfortable with the decision I made to ask someone else to help me."

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

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