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June 16th, 2017
June 16th, 2017

CCGA expands into the Polar Bear Capital of the World

Living in Churchill has its advantages.  Nestled on the Churchill River as it opens into the Hudson Bay, our community is fortunate to be the home of rare migratory birds, iconic marine wildlife including beluga whales, seals, and of course polar bears.  With small bursts of visitors arriving to our town that resemble the ebb and flow of tides, tour companies rally to accommodate the influx of people, and provide them with the rare opportunity to see the arctic wildlife in their natural habitat.      
  
Anyone in the tourism industry will tell you: the trick is to make it look easy.  The fact is, that Arctic realities often get overlooked by our southern friends, and there is an understanding amongst ourselves that we are mostly left to our own devices.  This is something we are proud of.

There is a long history - prior to the confederation of Canada - of finding ways to live comfortably in an inhospitable environment which still rings true today.  In Churchill, weve learned to embrace the ways of old, and adapt when necessary.  

When I moved to Churchill a few years ago, it was striking what lengths people will go to in order to help one another.  Having spent my years here volunteering with the local Fire Department, Im always amazed how people provide support during extremely rough times
 
Rendering assistance and providing support to our neighbor is second nature to us all, and as a community, weve been able to overcome so many obstacles.  In fact, I believe that Churchill got so good at being self-reliant, that the lack of marine SAR capacity throughout the region went unnoticed.  

However, following a series of incidents on the estuary, it became clear that a professional Search and Rescue Unit was needed.  

Finding people with the necessary skill and experience to sustain a Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary unit was easy.  

Our group is made up of Canadian Rangers, Firefighters, and Wilderness Guides (and we even have a nurse and a paramedic on board).  

With unwavering support from Lazy Bear Expeditions, Sea North Tours, the Town of    Churchill and Parks Canada, our group quickly organized and establishing ourselves as one of the latest CCGA units in the country.  

On June 16, George Bush, Robert Fleury, Ralph Fitzgerald, Serge Jacques, and Dave Northmore delivered Phase 1&2 training to 26 individuals from Churchill, putting the tools and training into the hands of us - the people who live and work on the water.      
 
None of this would have been possible if it wasnt for Peter Garapick, Shannon Laird and Mark Gagnon who gave us the gears to get off the ground.

Peter and Mark attended the Northern SAR Roundtable that was held in Churchill last spring, and the support they have given us is exactly what was needed to fill the gap in marine emergency response.  The support has been amazing from both the CCG and CCGA, and I cant express my gratitude enough.

We take our fair share of abuse from the elements, but when the    going gets tough, this is a strong and resilient community which has just been made stronger by the addition of a CCGA unit.  

Our Search and Rescue Unit has become an integral service to our community, and Im taking this opportunity to thank Peter, Shannon, and the gang of instructors who made this initiative a success.


-Brady Highway, Visitor Safety and Fire Operations Coordinator  

Left to Right - Back Row (Duane Collins, Marc-Andre Belcourt, Robert Fleury, Wally Daudrich, Gerald Azure, Kurt Thompson, Dave Northmore, Caitlin Olivier, Sylvain Labatt, Eva Nagyova, Serge Jacques, Addy Daudrich, Jerry Thompson, Kevin Chalus, George Bush, Dave Allcorn, Dmytri Kandurin, Justin Allen)  

Photo credit: Parks Canada

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