Bear crashes hockey game, mom saves kids

IVUJIVIK, Quebec — Lydia Angyiou's kids sure won't be giving her much trouble any more, now that they've seen her wrestle a 700-pound polar bear.

Angyiou lives in Ivujivik, a village of 300 people on the shore of Hudson Bay in northern Quebec.

One Wednesday evening earlier this month, Angyiou was walking near the village community center with her two sons when a group of children playing street hockey nearby started shouting and pointing frantically.

Angyiou, 41, turned around and saw a polar bear sizing up her 7-year-old son.

She told the children to run and raced around to get between the bear and her son. Then she started kicking and punching the animal, according to police reports.

In a flash, the bear swatted her in the face and she fell on her back. With the bear on top of her, Angyiou began kicking her legs in a bicycle-pedaling motion. She was swatted once more and rolled over, but the bear moved toward her again.

Siqualuk Ainalik heard the commotion and came rushing over. Seeing Angyiou wrestling with the bear, he ran to his brother's home, grabbed a rifle and headed back to the street. He fired a few warning shots.

The sound diverted the bear's attention from Angyiou just long enough for him to aim and fire again. According to police, Ainalik fired four shots into the bear before it finally died.

With the help of some neighbors, Angyiou made it to the home of Nelson Conn, a constable with the Kativik Regional Police Force.

"She came in in a panic," Conn recalled. "She was obviously in shock. She was saying, 'Bear, bear.' I just took her over to our nursing station and I asked where and if the bear was dead. She said, 'Yes.'"

Remarkably, Angyiou suffered only a couple of scratches and a black eye. She and the local police have been fielding calls from across Canada ever since the incident was first reported last week in the Nunatsiaq News.

Meanwhile, villagers are still marveling at her courage, and there is talk of nominating her for a bravery medal.

"I've been here 24 years and I've never seen this before," said Larry Hubert, a regional captain with the police force who arrived on the scene just after the bear was shot. "For sure, she saved the kids' lives."

Hubert has known Angyiou for 15 years and he can't believe she took on a bear. He said the bear measured eight feet in length and weighed at least 700 pounds.

Angyiou "is about 5-foot-nothing and 90 pounds on a wet day," Hubert said with a laugh. "She's pretty quiet. I'm surprised she went and did this.

"But I guess when your back is up against the wall, I guess we come up with super-human strength."

Ivujivik is Quebec's northernmost community, situated on a peninsula where the Hudson Bay meets the Hudson Strait.

While polar bears roam the giant ice packs that float just off shore, Hubert said it's rare for them to wander into the village. He said he believes the bear that tangled with Angyiou became disoriented and was not looking for food.

"She's lucky the bear wasn't hungry," he said. "If the bear was hungry, she would have been eaten pretty quickly."

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.