Rescue Drill Turned Real In Canada’s North


Resolute Bay plane crash; image Department of National Defence
Smoke rises from the plane crash behind a rescue helicopter in Resolute Bay. Image: DND.

On Aug. 20, about 400 Canadian soldiers were in Nunavut recently for a search-and-rescue exercise called “Operation Nanook.”

An exercise, or drill, is when members of the military practice rescuing pretend air-crash victims just in case it ever happens.

The troops were to perform the exercise for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

However, the mock exercise was cancelled when there was a real plane crash nearby. The team raced out to help the victims.

The soldiers knew it was real when someone said, “NODUF,” which is slang for “this is not a drill.”

A 737 plane had crashed near Resolute Bay. Strong winds and fog likely caused the crash as the plane was coming in for a landing.

Twelve people were killed in the crash. Three survivors were quickly taken to the medical facility that had been flown to Resolute Bay as part of the exercise.

It was lucky for them that the soldiers and equipment were in town, just when they were needed most. The military were described as “critical” in the rescue of the three survivors.

In addition to the search-and-rescue troops, emergency workers from Resolute Bay also helped at the scene of the crash.

One of the survivors is seven-year-old Gabrielle Pelky, who suffered a broken leg from the crash. She was described by a neighbour as an “absolute jewel” of Resolute Bay.

The other survivors are Nicole Williamson, 23, and Robin Wyllie, 48.

Another man, Morgan Cox, was supposed to be on that flight but decided to take a later plane so he could attend his son’s birthday party. That delay saved his life. He said he feels lucky to be alive.

Resolute Bay is one of Canada’s most northern communities. In the Inuktitut language it is known as Qausuittuq, written as: ᖃᐅᓱᐃᑦᑐᖅ which translates into English as “place with no dawn,” according to Wikipedia.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
The plane crashed in a very remote community near Resolute Bay.  Fortunately, the troops were close by and they had medical equipment. If the military had not been there, the outcome of the crash could have been even more tragic.
Many people living in isolated communities in Canada believe that this crash demonstrates why it is important for the Canadian government to put more money into increasing medical facilities and supplies in these rural areas.  However, the government has a limited amount of money and they have to make sure it is well spent.  Do you think this should be a spending priority?  Why or why not? If you do not think so, where do you think the money would be better spent?

Reading Prompt
The troops were in Nunavut practicing how to rescue victims in a air crash.  What skills do you think they had to practice as part of their training?
At school, students and teachers have practice fire drills.  What are the most important things that you have to remember to do during these drills?
How do you think the air crash and fire drills are similar and different? Compare and contrast these two scenarios.

Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Grammar Feature: Homonyms
Homonyms are words that sound alike, but they are spelled differently.  In this article, the word ‘scene’ is the place where the crash happened.  ‘Seen’ is a homonym of ‘scene,’ but it is the past tense of “to see.”
Look at the examples of homonyms below and explain what each word means:
1. whole and hole
2. there, their, they’re
3. son, sun
4. one, won
5. wear, where