Two cousins from Paqtnkek Mi'kmaw Nation are dead after an oyster fishing boat capsized in waters off Bayfield, Antigonish County, on Monday.
A woman who was on the boat when it flipped about 150 metres from shore was taken to hospital.
The band’s official Facebook page identified the two men as Ozzy Clair and Niko Clair. The woman was identified as Lenora Prosper.
RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said they were called at 3 p.m. by a woman on shore who said the 16-foot open boat had capsized near Seagrass Lane and people were in the water.
Clarke said the woman on the boat was on shore when paramedics and police arrived, and that the woman who called 911 had found one of the men three metres from shore and pulled him onto the beach.
The second man, located 65 metres from shore by an RCMP helicopter that happened to be in the area, was brought to shore by firefighters.
Both men, who are in their late 20s, were unresponsive when they were found and taken to hospital, but they were pronounced dead Monday night.
Prosper was still in hospital Tuesday afternoon being treated for exposure.
Paqtnkek Chief Paul Prosper, who is the uncle of Lenora Prosper, said the incident has been tough on the small community of 600 people.
"We're quite close and tight with one and other, so when we suffer a loss of this magnitude it really cuts to the core of the community," he said. "We're in the process of getting things together and allowing the healing process to begin."
A crisis team from Eskasoni First Nation arrived Tuesday to help grieving members of the community who felt they needed someone to talk to.
"It's been very helpful in providing a resource for family members and community members to begin the grieving process, to allow discussions and things like that to take place. We're truly appreciative for them being here," the chief said.
Paqtnkek hadn't suffered any lost lives in the commercial fishing industry before Monday's incident.
The chief said the cousins "were quite close, obviously, and worked together and quite enjoyed working in the oyster industry."
Both were young fathers.
"They loved contributing to the community and participating in the community," Chief Prosper said. "They were extremely personable and outgoing, and loved by many."
He said he has spoken to Lenora Prosper's father and mother.
"My understanding is that she is doing OK. Obviously being involved in an incident like this it's going to take some time for her (to recover)."
Clarke said everyone in the boat was wearing a personal flotation device.
She said police spoke with Lenora Prosper when they arrived, but doesn’t know if she said anything about what caused the boat to capsize.
The federal Transportation Safety Board was expected to arrive in the community Tuesday afternoon as part of the investigation.