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EDITORIAL: P.E.I. comes together in times of need

A search is underway for a missing fisherman in Naufrage May 21.
A search for missing fisherman Jordan Hicken in the water off Naufrage began Tuesday.

It’s not the news anyone wants to hear.

On Tuesday, Lower Montague fisherman Jordan Hicken went overboard off a fishing boat near Naufrage at around 5:30 a.m.

The search for Hicken was massive.

The Souris and St. Peters fire departments, Coast Guard, search-and-rescue, a fixed-wing aircraft, helicopter and about 50 vessels in the water.

A Monticello man walking his two dogs stopped and helped search the shore for the Lower Montague fisherman.

Sadly, it was only eight months earlier on Sept. 18 that two fishermen – Glen DesRoches and Maurice Getson, died in the waters off North Cape when their lobster boat (the Kyla Anne)

capsized and sank.

The boat’s demise only became known after a third lobster fisherman – Tanner Gaudet – managed to swim back to shore in the rough weather.

The search for the two fishermen lasted 33 hours and covered an area of about 1,200 square nautical miles before it was ended. The matter was turned over to the RCMP as a missing person’s case.

Anytime a family is trying to come to grips with the loss of a loved one, Christmas can be the toughest time.

But here again, the Island community came together again and built the Fishermen Tree in the St. Simon and St. Jude Parish churchyard in Tignish. The eight-metre tree was made with 147 stacked lobster traps and decorated with Christmas lights and red buoys. The tree was built to honour the lives of the two North Cape fishermen as well as all fishermen who lost their lives over the years.

In late November, about 600 people showed up to see the tree lit up for the first time.

The search for Hicken on Tuesday was unsuccessful. On Wednesday, the matter was turned over to the Kings District RCMP as a missing person’s case that would continue with a ground search of the coastline. The hope was that Hicken managed to make his way back to shore as Gaudet was able to do in the North Cape waters.

It comes as no surprise that despite the rough water and surf conditions on Wednesday, some Islanders were believed to have gone out in boats to search for Hicken.

These are unfortunate reminders that life can change in an instant and that tragedy can strike at any time.

Commercial fishermen are hard-working, proud and honest people. It isn’t glamorous work, but it is a job that has allowed generations of Islanders to work side by side and provide for their families.

Commercial fishing is also part of that class of dangerous jobs that when you leave for work in the morning, there is a possibility that you may not come home.

But that’s the reality that Islanders understand, and it is always remarkable the way the community comes together to help families during tragic times like these.

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