[excerpts] RCMP Special Const. Andrew Ooyoumut once trekked through a blizzard to deliver supplies to starving Inuit families....
Ooyoumut, who was 37, drowned in the Kikatavyuk River in 1954 while helping to catch fish to feed RCMP sled dogs. ...
The North was always home for Ooyoumut.
Ooyoumut's granddaughter, Deborah Kigjugalik Webster, said he left a traditional, nomadic life to move into the new settlement of Baker Lake, in what was then Northwest Territories and is now Nunavut. He was hired by the RCMP in 1946.
Ooyoumut died July 21, 1954 — it was his eldest daughter's birthday. He left behind a wife and four children.
Webster never got a chance to meet her grandfather, but as a heritage specialist, she dug into his past, pouring over service records.
"I found out that as a special constable, he was working during the time of famine in the 1950s and some people remember him very well because in that time he brought supplies to them so that they wouldn't starve. He went to their camps and brought food supplies," Webster said.
"I've heard elders talking about that, that he was a very kind man that way.
"I know from reading the service file, he would even travel in bad weather and I remember his supervisor making note of that in the service file, saying that he travelled during a blizzard. Basically he was risking his own life to get the food to people who were starving."
Webster said special constables played an important role in helping the RCMP patrol the North. She said her grandfather had a lot of duties with the force, but was never properly acknowledged after his death.
She said she has been digging for access to information, "running into brick walls" and fighting for more than 15 years for recognition.
Webster's grandmother passed away a few years ago. But Webster, her mother, and two aunts will be at the ceremony at the RCMP training academy in Regina on Sunday wearing pukiliks — traditional clothing from Baker Lake that her grandmother made. She said it will be an important time for her family.
"It has been a long time coming," said Webster.
"For me when I hear Ooyoumut's name called out, I think that will be the most touching moment for me. For Ooyoumut to be finally honoured properly and shown the respect he deserves, it will mean a tremendous amount. To be there, too, with my mother and her two sisters is special because they lived without their father."