12/30/2014 12:09 EST | Updated 03/01/2015 05:59 EST

Nunavut family home safe after night on the land

A Nunavut couple and their 13-year-old son are safe in Igloolik after poor weather and a snowmobile breakdown forced them to spend a night on the land. 

Simonie Issigaitok and his family spent Christmas in Hall Beach, a tiny hamlet about 70 kilometres south of Igloolik.

They set out to return home to Igloolik on Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m., but about an hour into the trip, the weather turned bad.

Then, another problem. 

“My snowmobile broke down,” said Simonie Issigaitok in Inuktitut. “That is why we were overdue. 

“It got too dark to try to fix it at the time. Instead I made a shelter of snow for us to stay warm.”

The trip normally takes up to two hours. 

When the family didn’t arrive, a  search was called, then called off, as blizzard conditions closed in on the hamlet. 

Environment Canada had issued a blizzard warning for both communities, where the wind was expected to gust up to 70 km/h and the windchill was making temperatures feel like -49 C.

The absolute temperature dipped to -30 C Sunday night. 

Issigaitok told the CBC he tried calling on his CB radio many times but could not be heard.

He built a shelter using snow and a tarp they were travelling with. The family stayed inside until the weather improved. They had a Coleman stove for heat, but were low on fuel and were using it sparingly. 

When the weather cleared, Issigaitok says he was able to repair his snowmobile using sealskin rope. Some bolts in the engine had come loose.  

The family arrived in Igloolik around 8 p.m. Monday night, much to the relief of residents there.