A single otter airplane landed on the shore in the Innu community of Sheshatshiu early Thursday evening, dropping off a load of hunted caribou. It is unclear how many animals were aboard, but two witnesses told The Labradorian they saw caribou being taken away from the plane.
“A skidoo came off the ice and went on past me, with one caribou in the komatik,” said one witness.
The plane brought out a large crowd from the community. People came out in their cars and snowmobiles, almost completely blocking the road along the shore of Sheshatshiu.
Not long after the otter plane left, Big Land Aviation co-owners Albert Michelin (who was an RCMP officer in Labrador for 18 years before transfering to New Brunswick) and Clarence Froude were made aware that their Turbo Single Otter airplane had been seized.
“I got a call from the (RCMP) hangar… saying it was seized,” said Froude. “He asked me how to put (the plane) in the hangar.”
Neither Froude nor Michelin could confirm or deny if caribou was aboard the plane. Both insist their company did nothing wrong.
“Our plane is chartered every day,” says Froude. “I don’t question anybody (on what they’ll use the plane for) …it’s none of my business.”
“Our pilots don’t fish, they don’t hunt, they don’t partake (in the client’s activities),” said Michelin. “I’m going to be contacting lawyers and I will sue the government to recoup any losses, if necessary.”
Michelin says that the turbo otter is the only plane that the company has in Labrador. The company has another that operates out of Ontario.
Michelin and Froude say they are still awaiting official confirmation from the Wildlife Department that their plane has been seized. They also say they have yet to hear back from the two pilots that were aboard the plane.