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CFB Trenton soldier dies in Nunavut rescue mission

Sergeant Janick Gilbert, who was involved in the rescue of two people stranded on a boat in Nunavut, has died.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ho-Department of National Defence/THE CANADIAN PRESS/ho-Department of National Defence

A soldier has died after jumping into icy, stormy waters in an attempt to save a pair of stranded boaters in Nunavut.

Sergeant Janick Gilbert was a search and rescue technician based at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario.

Captain Pierre Bolduc said Sgt. Gilbert and two other rescue technicians jumped into the Hecla Strait from a military aircraft Thursday.

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The C-130 Hercules had flown north to Nunavut after two men in an open boat ran into trouble about 25 kilometres east of Igloolik.

The men were in the boat, battling strong winds and high waves. Community residents in two other boats tried to rescue the men, but couldn't reach them.

Capt. Bolduc said after the three soldiers jumped in, all five waited three hours for a Cormorant helicopter to arrive from CFB Gander in Newfoundland and pick them up.

Sgt. Gilbert died before the chopper arrived, but how he died has not been released.

"Janick will always be remembered as a respected family member of 8 Wing who was committed to helping people in need," said Trenton's base commander, Colonel Sean Friday. "At this most sorrowful time, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his many friends."

Lieutenant General Andre Deschamps, commander of the Royal Canadian Air force, also said his sympathies are with Sgt. Gilbert's family and comrades.

"He lost his life in the service of his country while unselfishly answering the call for help," said Lt.-Gen. Deschamps.

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The two other rescue technicians and the two men rescued from the boat were taken to Igloolik.

The rescue mission was co-ordinated by the base in Trenton, but also included rescue crews from bases in Gander, Nfld. and Greenwood, NS and Winnipeg. A Canadian Coast Guard ship from Iqaluit was also dispatched.

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