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23rd of July 2018

Canada



Iqaluit resident warns of ice-panning dangers after weekend ice floe rescue | CBC News

An Iqaluit resident is reminding people of the dangers of ice panning — jumping on floating pans of ice — after she helped rescue four youth who became stranded during the holiday weekend.

Janet Brewster was having a cup of coffee on her deck and watching the children ice pan when she noticed something was wrong.

Ice panning has long been a popular activity during the ice break-up season; Brewster herself said she had done it as a child.

However, after noticing the youth were not making any progress, Brewster became concerned.

"I heard one of them call out, 'We need help,'" she said.

"I could see that the wind was blowing the ice, the wind had picked up, and there was quite a bit of flowing water. So I became concerned that they wouldn't be able to make it back to the breakwater."

Brewster called Iqaluit's emergency dispatch line and was put through to the RCMP. Police responded to the situation, which Brewster said "didn't go well."

"They basically came out yelling at the children," she said, "yelling at them to come back to shore right away. They were quite aggressive in their approach to these children, and the kids were shouting back at them."

In the meantime, Brewster had posted photos of the youth on a local Facebook group, asking residents with boats to come and help the stranded children. It took about an hour for help to arrive, as the children floated further and further away. 

'They are so loved'

Brewster, who had driven down to the shoreline as she waited for help, said the incident reminded her of an experience she had as a child, when she was out ice panning with her cousin. After drifting away from shore, she was rescued by two of her uncles, who happened to be passing by on a boat.

"[They said,] 'You shouldn't be doing this, and you're lucky we came along; you could have been in a lot of danger,'" she recalled.

"So that's what I was thinking about. My experience as a youth was I made some bad choices and wound up in trouble, and luckily, somebody came by with a boat."

Brewster said she spoke with the youth after they were rescued, telling them 'how loved they are by their family ... and the impact of something bad happening to them.' (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

Ultimately, the children were rescued from the ice pan by a community member.

Brewster said as they came to shore, she invited them into her truck to warm up. She also took the opportunity to speak with them about their experience.

"We started talking about how they ended up on the ice and how they came to be in that situation, and the choices they made that led to them drifting off," she said.

"And how loved they are by their family, and what brought me there … that as a mother, I hear a child say, 'We need help,' and I was really concerned that they were in trouble. And the impact of something bad happening to them would be tremendous, because they are so loved by their families.

"And when they were getting out of my truck, one of them turned over her shoulder and said, 'I love you,' and another boy said, 'I love you.' So I loved them back. And I think, really, that they'll remember this forever."

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