NEWS

5 children rescued from Quebec winter storm

02/25/2014 01:42 EST | Updated 04/27/2014 05:59 EDT
The Cree community of Mistissini sprang into action after a mother cried out for help on Facebook.

On Friday afternoon, Jennifer Masty-Shecapio and her family took three snowmobiles out on Mistissini Lake, in the James Bay region of Quebec.

The group included Jennifer, her husband Morley, their five children and one-year-old grandson. They were on their way to the family cabin when two of their snowmobiles broke down.

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That's when Jennifer sent out a message on Facebook asking for help. They didn't know how long it would take to be rescued so they decided to send the children ahead to the cabin on the snowmobile that was still working. 

Family member Larry Shecapio decided to act after he saw Masty's post.

The two communicated though Facebook and contacted the local fire department. He also enlisted the help of his older brother George Shecapio, who has expert knowledge about the lake and the surroundings.

They found Jennifer and her husband right away but when they went ahead to the family cabin, the children weren't there.

Both Shecapio brothers knew the family very well, and they knew that their snowmobile was old and wasn't working well.

"It wasn't very cold, but it was very windy and the snow was blowing," says George Shecapio. He was worried for the kids.

The rescue team used four ski-doos and included the father of the five children, Morley Shecapio.

Sometime between 9 to 12 midnight on Friday night, the weather started to calm down, which helped with the search and allowed them to pick up the ski-doo trail. 

George says he checked all the cabins that he passed by in case if the children had sought shelter in them.​ The search continued through the night until 9 a.m., when they finally found the group of children about 25 kilometres north of Mistissini. 

David Mark, from the Mistissini fire department, found the kids all wrapped up with a tarp. 

The 17-year-old son, Sylvester, had enough traditional knowledge to dig a hole and put up a tarp for shelter. The one-year-old was in the middle to keep him warm.

Shecapio says they were very, very lucky. 

"I don't know if there was any real sense of direction ...they were heading straight towards a hole where there is moving water, where it is not safe in the winter. But they got stuck in the slush before they hit that area. So they couldn't move. So they just walked to shore, " says Shecapio. 

George said he was elated when he found out, via cell phone, that they were found. He said it was an emotional scene when the father arrived at the make shift camp.

Larry Shecapio wanted to thank the rescue team Neil Longchap, David Mark, and his brother George Shecapio, the children's father Morley Shecapio. 

Larry Shecapio says the oldest of the five children, 17 year-old Sylvester Shecapio, is the real hero because he kept all his sisters and brother in one spot and kept them warm.

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