Former Whapmagoostui Chief David Masty Sr. has died after his snowmobile plunged through lake ice while on a hunting trip.

Masty had been missing from his brother Robbie’s hunting camp, where he had been staying with his family, since the morning of November 28. The camp is approximately 100 km northeast of Whapmagoostui.

David Masty’s family became concerned when he did not return by 6 pm. He hadn’t taken supplies for an overnight trip on the land.

A search began on the morning of November 29 and ended when search parties found snowmobile tracks leading to the scene of the accident.

It appears Masty’s machine went through the ice. His body was recovered and returned to Whapmagoostui, where he was pronounced dead at 5:45 pm November 29, said Whapmagoostui Police Senior Officer Patrick Masty.

David Masty Sr. was Chief of Whapmagoostui from 2000 to 2006, and at the time of his death was serving as a Councillor on the Band Council. Although Masty was semi-retired, he continued to work on a good governance by-law that he had introduced as Chief. He was also part of a Grand Council subcommittee working to get a road built to Whapmagoostui.

Masty was well-respected in his community. Current Whapmagoostui Chief Losty Mamianskum said, “He was a great man. He was the kind of person and politician that most people wish they could be, in terms of being principled, open, patient, and very democratic. He had all the qualities that we aspire to be and we will all miss him. But we can also be thankful for his contributions to the Cree Nation of Whapmagoostui and the whole Cree Nation as well.”

Grand Chief Mathew Mukash saluted Masty’s 40 years of service to his community.

“He was a knowledgeable and very wise man,” said Mukash.

“In my case, he was a role model. When I saw that he had graduated from high school, I wanted to follow. He played a big role in my life in getting to where I am. He was like the older brother I never had.”