GJOA HAVEN, Nunavut – A member of Canada’s Arctic reserve force has died on a military exercise intended to monitor snow and ice conditions in the Northwest Passage.
Donald Anguyoak died Sunday in a single snowmobile accident in Nunavut, said RCMP Cpl. Yvonne Niego.
“There is no criminal investigation,” Niego said Tuesday. “The coroner’s office has taken over.”
Anguyoak, 46, was a member of the Canadian Rangers, the largely aboriginal reserve force that works jointly with regular forces in the Arctic. He was taking part in Exercise Polar Passage, which began Feb. 9 and runs to March 3.
Anguyoak was on duty, acting as head scout for other members of his patrol, when he died.
Polar Passage, now in its third year, brings Rangers from Gjoa Haven, Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay and Taloyoak together with federal scientists to gather information on a long stretch of the Northwest Passage. The Rangers are trained to use sampling kits and to measure snow and ice thickness, water temperature, salinity, and plankton abundance.
There is no word on what Anguyoak was doing when he was killed. The Army said in a statement no further details would be released about the accident.
“A thorough investigation will be conducted to determine the case and any factors that contributed to this accident,” said the military news release.
Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin, commander of the Army, said Anguyoak will be missed.
“We remember Donald for his passion about passing his knowledge and skills to the youth of Gjoa Haven through the Junior Canadian Ranger program,” Devlin said in a release.
The Junior Rangers are a youth wing of the Rangers, much praised in the North for bringing a positive activity to young people and for providing a way to transmit traditional land skills.
Members of the Gjoa Haven Rangers conduct sovereignty patrols and monitor the North Warning System, a joint U.S.-Canadian radar system for North American air defence.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that the death is a reminder that the Rangers and other members of the Canadian Forces face real dangers as they safeguard Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.
“On behalf of all Canadians, Laureen and I offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Cpl. Donald Anguyoak,” Harper said.
Gjoa Haven, a community of about 1,000 people, is on the south end of King William Island, which is just north of Canada’s Arctic mainland, west of Hudson Bay.
There are about 4,700 Canadian Rangers in 173 patrols in Canada. About 1,600 of them are located in 58 hamlets in the three northern territories.