Residents demand permanent SAR service in Labrador
© Alicia Elson
Lanterns were lit in memory of Burton Winters during a Candlelight vigil for Burton Winters in Happy Valley Goose Bay last night. Similar vigils were held in towns along the Labrador Coast, and St. John's.
Lanterns lit up the night in Happy Valley Goose Bay last night in memory of Burton Winters during a candlelight vigil for the young boy who died off the coast of Makkovik last week. About 100 people of all ages came out to pay their respects to the boy, and the Inosuttuit Nipingit drumdancers performed a tribute to Burton. Similar vigils were held in Burton's hometown, and other towns along the Labrador Coast. About 30 people gathered at the Confederation Building in St. John's as well, to honour Burton and demand a permanent Search and Rescue squadron stationed in Labrador.
Fourteen-year-old Burton Winters died tragically on the coastal sea ice last week. The boy was reporting missing to the RCMP on Jan. 29 after he did not return home on his snowmobile in the evening. His body was found three days later by on the sea ice about 19 kilometers from his abandoned snowmobile.
In the hours following the ground search efforts additional calls were made o the Canadian Forces SAR for flight support the morning of January 30. Those supports never made it to the community. The response has been questioned by the boy's family, politicians and members of the public.
Members of the Canadian forces addressed the media on Wednesday in St.John's. Rear Admiral Dave Gardam stated that helicopter services were not sent to the community as poor weather conditions prevented the helicopters from flying into the area. Col. Mark Chinner, officer in charge of the Air Coordination Component Element for the Atlantic region, said neither of the two Griffon helicopters stationed in Goose Bay would have been able to respond as both SAR mission helicopters were grounded for maintenance at the time. The situation has caused a national public outcry for a full inquiry into last weeks response to the missing teen. Protests have been scheduled today in Happy Valley Goose Bay to rally in support of permanent Search and Rescue services to be stationed in Labrador.