The body of a deceased kayaker found in Great Slave Lake has been identified as 30-year-old Thomas Destailleur of France, an avid world traveler who was undertaking a months-long Northern journey to raise awareness about the climate crisis and the importance of preserving nature.

The deceased man’s identity was confirmed late Friday afternoon by NWT chief coroner Cathy Menard.

Thomas Destailleur had been travelling across the North as part of his “Open Your Wild Project,” an initiative he hoped would inspire people to act on the climate crisis.
Facebook photo.

Destailleur’s body was located near his overturned kayak Wednesday night following a search effort by Fort Resolution and Hay River RCMP, along with Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC), Trenton, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA), Hay River.

The search was launched after RCMP received a report Wednesday morning stating Destailleur had not checked with family when he was expected to.

Destailleur frequently posted updates of his ambitious trip – he began biking in Fort McMurray in July and planned to reach Tuktoyaktuk, the final destination on his route, by mid-September – to a blog and Facebook page.

The trip was part of what Destailleur called the Open Your Wild Project, a three-pronged initiative meant to educate, inspire and create awareness, states a blog post, which was been translated from French into English.

Just before 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 5, amid concerns of high winds and rising waves, Destailleur posted his final photo to his Facebook page, writing he had had passed Pine Point, near Fort Resolution. He was reported missing on Aug. 7.

On Aug. 5, amid concerns of high winds and rising waves, Destailleur posted his final photo to his Facebook page.
Facebook photo.

“Hoping the wind falls … let’s hope for tomorrow,” reads Destailleur’s translated final post.

On his blog, Destailleur wrote he was undertaking the adventure to “advocate sustainable use of resources and stewardship of the environment.”

“I think that the environment and climate crisis we are going through is partly due to the distance that exists between Man and Nature,” wrote Destailleur.

The eco-adventurer contacted Hay River Hub in May, explaining his goal for the trip.

“My aim is to raise awareness, make people react and encourage people to take stand to the environmental crisis, through the preparation and realization of eco-friendly sports adventures,” he told the Hub.

Destailleur stated he planned on highlighting the “ecological and environmental initiatives” of Hay River. Tragically, he never made it to the town.

A post mortem examination has been ordered by the NWT Coroner Services.

“We are continuing our ongoing investigation with the assistance of the RCMP,” stated Menard in Friday’s news release.

“NWT Coroner Service extends our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Thomas Destailleur.”

More to come. 


Brendan Burke

As the Yellowknifer’s crime reporter, it’s my job to keep readers up to speed on all-things “cops and courts” related. From house fires and homicides to courtroom clashes, it’s my responsibility...

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