Eleven Nunavik Bravery Awards were presented at Makivvik’s AGM in Kangirsuk this April.
The award recognizes Nunavimmiut who risk their lives to try to save or protect another. There are two crucial factors in the evaluation of a nominee: the degree of risk faced and the nominee’s persistence despite the risk, and the perception of risk, such that people who try to help, even though they know they might be severely injured or killed.
Following are this year’s award recipients and brief descriptions of their bravery.
Daniel Baron, Henry Ittulak, and Kitty Ittulak
On their way back home to Kangiqsualujjuaq this winter, Moses and Margo Morgan’s skidoo broke through the ice near Ammuumajulik. Daniel Baron, Henry Ittulak and Kitty Ittulak saw the event happen and moved quickly to help. Daniel worked with gear he had on hand and began to pull the two out of the water with a thin twine rope. The rope snapped, but while working around the dangerous open water, he threw the rope back and with the help of Henry and Kitty was able to pull Moses and Margo out of the freezing water back to safety.
In the fall of 2021, David Annanack his Father Johnny Sam Annanack and two boys were coming back from a caribou hunting trip. Despite David’s father Johnny being unable to walk from a past stroke, David brings him camping whenever he can because his father taught him to hunt. While returning that windy evening, the sun had set and the group was travelling in the dark when their boat suddenly hit land, breaking their outboard. The group ended up in the water and while the two boys managed to make their way onto the land, David knew that his father’s disability wouldn’t allow him to swim on his own. David swam out to his father in the treacherous conditions, saving his life.
David Snowball, Etua Snowball, and Elijah Baron
During the same event described previously, David Snowball, Etua Snowball, and Elijah Baron were aware of the accident that David and the group had just experienced. The rough water and darkness made it dangerous for the second boat to make it to the land where the first had struck ground. Knowing that that group was wet from falling into the water, David, Etua and Elijah had to save them from the freezing fall temperatures. Despite the possibility of running aground and sinking their own boat, they successfully picked up the four stranded individuals.
Adamie Etok and Jimmy Chevrier
In the early winter of 2021, Johnny Etok and Adamie Etok went fishing. While travelling in the lead across the thin ice Johnny broke though with his skidoo and fell into the water. Adamie tried to save him but was having difficulties as he, too, was in danger of falling into the water. Jimmy Chevrier was out fishing with his mother near by when he saw Johnny in the water and Adamie trying to save him. Jimmy acted fast, removing all his outerwear like his parka and snowpants. He took his chisel, tied a rope to it and made his way out to the two. Once he was able to make it close enough, he threw his chisel out to Johnny, and with Adamie’s help the two were able to pull Johnny out of the frigid water and up to safety.
In March of 2010, Sirqualuk was on his way home when stopped by another individual who told him someone out by the point had fallen through the ice. Sirqualuk rushed there and saw the ice moving in the current. He turned his skidoo off and went out towards the open water but couldn’t see anyone. He heard a person yelling, then noticed a little black spot which he thought was a bag. Once he got closer, he saw it was Charlie Panigajaq who was almost completely submerged in the water. He threw his unaaq at him to grab, but Charlie was too weak to hold on. While trying to get Charlie out, Sirqualuk fell into the water, but miraculously made it back on top of the ice, now closer to Charlie. From there he was able to pull Charlie from the water and save him from drowning.
Willie Adams was out with his sister Laura Adams who was 2 years old at the time. Laura fell into the river, but thankfully her sweater caught on a piece of metal which stopping her from being swept away. Willie acted fast and was able to make it to Laura before she was swept away.