Cumberland House comes together to rescue men lost in northern wilderness

Two men are safe after spending three nights in the wilderness of northern Saskatchewan and it`s because the community of Cumberland House Cree Nation rallied together.

The men, aged 56 and 57, were pursuing moose Wednesday in the northern region when they lost their way, said Cumberland House Chief, Rene Chaboyer. When they didn't return later that evening and were still missing in the morning, other hunters at their camp started to search.

"It's a large delta where we occupy and harvest our food and it doesn't take much to lose your bearing once the dark sets in," he said.

Chaboyer said it didn't take long for word to get around the community the men were missing, and people turned out to expand the search.

"This went on day-and-night," he said, noting the community did set up a command post and notified RCMP the men were missing, along with authorities from Prince Albert. As a result, aerial searches using a plane and helicopter also took place.

He explained outfitters and community members were contributing in any way they could, with some searching the wilderness and others cooking meals for the expanding search party.

"We've experienced a few of these occasions where as a community, we needed to act quickly, so we did," he said. "When a person goes missing, we know right now that we must do our best and not hope they show up."

Screen grab/Google Maps

The delta where Cumberland House is located is well known for its extreme conditions, terrain, and wildlife like wolves, bears and moose said Chaboyer.

"It's so swampy. It's so heavily forested. It really put everybody to the test," he said. "As much as a person is trained on GPS or physically fit, it's really going to put you out there."

He said the entire community rejoiced when news spread the two men were found safe, as there was heavy rain over the course of the search, which could make a person susceptible to hypothermia. 

"Words cannot express my gratitude for how everybody just came together without having to be asked or called upon," he said. Adding later: "We understand the extreme severity of the danger out there and when duty called, our people came and helped out." 

Calling the day of the rescue historic, he said it's one the community members will never forget.