Border jumper finds it hard to melt into Arctic
Nathan VanderKlippe, CanWest News Service; Edmonton Journal
Published: Thursday, September 21, 2006
It must have seemed like the perfect plan for a man desperate to bust into Canada: fly to Greenland, buy a boat and sneak into the country as far from the nearest immigration official as possible: the Arctic hinterland.
From there he would buy a plane ticket and escape unnoticed to Toronto to be with his family.
But the plan failed miserably for a 32-year-old Romanian, who shocked residents of Canada's northernmost community when he pulled up in his 18-foot fibreglass boat this Monday.
It's hard to slip under the radar in a tightly-knit community of less than 200, and as the Romanian emerged from a thick fog onto the shores of Grise Fiord, he was met by a welcoming party of curious Inuit. Wet from the journey, with no food and only 20 litres of fuel remaining, the Romanian was nonetheless freshly shaved and eager to sell his boat to raise money for his airfare south.
Those who met him offered to take the man, whose name has not been released, to the local Co-op store to buy food.
On the way, they happened to run into RCMP Const. Ian Johnson, and the Romanian's scheme crumbled.
“We happened to be there at the same time,” Johnson said. “We seen him and spoke to him and determined that he was deported in 2000 from Canada to Romania, and he's attempted to get into the country again a few other times and has been stopped and sent back.
“So that's what's going to happen this time as well.”
The Romanian will be flown to Resolute Bay today, where agents from the Canadian Border Services Agency will escort him to Ottawa.
“I've been in the force six years and this is the most interesting thing I've seen,” said Johnson. “It just goes to show that no matter where you are, as long as you're around water, this stuff could happen.”
The Romanian has stirred considerable interest, fear and amazement in the isolated town. The man travelled from Sisimiut, Greenland, several hundred kilometres away, through seas so rough the waves shattered his windshield.
“We were all proud of him and amazed, shook his hand and I went to go get my camera so I can go take some pictures with this amazing guy, that he can actually travel almost half the world or something like that,” said Jeffrey Qaunaq, a sergeant with the Canadian Rangers who met the man on the beach.
The Romanian's trip would not have been possible a few decades ago, but Grise Fiord is coming to grips with the unsettling truth that melting ice is exposing the North to the world, Qaunaq said.
“It could have been anybody who was a terrorist, and he could have just bombed us right away, so it kind of our opened our eyes,” he said.