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Tragedy on the Bay

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009

REPULSE BAY - A mother's heroic efforts to save her drowning sons ended in tragedy this past weekend near the community of Repulse Bay.

Clara Apak Arnatsiaq, 29, of Iglulik and her four sons were out for a family outing at Old Water Lake Monday, Aug. 3.

Police estimate between 2 and 4 p.m. two of Arnatsiaq's sons, aged 11 and eight, ventured into a deep area of the lake and found themselves in serious trouble.

Arnatsiaq heard their cries and entered the water in an attempt to pull them to safety.

The effort was too much for the mother and she was pulled under the water along with her sons.

Arnatsiaq's two other sons watched in horror from the shore as she tried valiantly to rescue her boys.

When they lost sight of their mother, they ran franticly towards town for help and were picked up on an ATV by a passerby.

Upon finding no one at home, they ran to their grandmother's home where they told their father what had happened.

A number of community members headed to the lake and began searching for the mother and her two sons.

Their bodies were found about five hours later and repeated attempts at CPR could not revive the mother and her sons.

Inuk actor

Clara was the sister of well-known Inuk actor Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq, who was one of the stars of the multi-award-winning film Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner.

She had recently become a home-care worker, and Iglulik recreation director Celestino Uyarak said she was known as an active member of the community.

"Clara often took part planning community events and we often worked together on recreational activities," said Uyarak.

"It didn't matter if it was Christmas, New Year's or Easter events, she was almost always involved.

"She was a very community minded and hard-working person who will be missed by the entire community, as will her boys."

Funeral services for the three will be held in Iglulik.