03/26/2014 05:17 EDT | Updated 05/26/2014 05:59 EDT

Offices shut down as dozens search for well-known Iqaluit homeless man

IQALUIT, Nunavut - Dozens of volunteers in Iqaluit left their homes and offices Wednesday to search the icy streets of the Nunavut capital for a well-known, much-loved homeless man.

Police say Benjamin Palluq, 44, hasn't been seen since Friday.

"Many, many, many people know him," said Iqaluit RCMP Cpl. Yvonne Niego .

"In a way he's like a pillar of the community. He is everywhere you go. He is at every public place around the community."

Niego said Palluq is epileptic, has a mental disability and may be off his medications.

"People may not know him by name but they definitely know him by face. He's respectful of people and always smiling and welcoming to people he passes by."

In addition to police and emergency workers, government departments and aboriginal organizations have released employees to help look for Palluq. The Qikiqtani Inuit Association closed its doors Wednesday afternoon to join the effort.

At least 75 people participated in the organized search. Those who know Palluq are also spreading the word on social media.

The weather in Iqaluit on Wednesday was -19 C with a slight wind.