A Canada flag flies beside an Nunavut flag in Iqaluit, Nunavut on July 31, 2019. The government of Nunavut is affirming its intention to create a civilian police oversight body after a recent review of a shooting death of an Inuit man. Territorial Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak says it’s a priority for her government to stop relying on other police forces to investigate actions of the RCMP. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Nunavut moving to civilian police review following RCMP shooting report

Trust between Inuit and RCMP has been an issue for a long time

Nunavut is preparing legislation to create a civilian police review agency after a recent review of a shooting death of an Inuit man released almost no information about what happened.

“We are actively discussing partnerships with civilian lead investigative bodies and will soon bring forward the legislative changes required to ensure a civilian body has full statutory authority to conduct investigations in the territory,” territorial Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak said in an email.

Ehaloak, who has said before that she supports civilian reviews, made the promise after the Ottawa Police Service released results of an investigation into the shooting death of Attachie Ashoona in Kinngait, Nunavut, on Feb. 27.

Investigators found officers “did not exceed the use of force necessary to control the situation.”

No information on the circumstances was released. Ottawa police said they interviewed five RCMP officers and 10 people from the community, but there was silence on what Ashoona was doing or why the officers fired their guns.

Ashoona’s name wasn’t released until this week.

“They’re doing what the current system currently allows,” said Benson Cowan, head of Nunavut’s legal aid society. “All it does is erode trust in the institutions that are so important.”

Kinngait Mayor Timoon Toonoo confirmed council hadn’t received any information on the investigation.

“We haven’t got anything,” he said.

Cowan said the review may have been thorough and complete. But nobody except the investigators knows that.

“I don’t think anyone would look at this and say this would build trust.”

Trust between Inuit and RCMP has been an issue for a long time.

“Nunavummiut have expressed the desire to move away from police- led investigations into serious incidents involving members of the RCMP V Division,” Ehaloak said.

ALSO READ: Jagmeet Singh calls for ‘systemic change’ for policing during Vancouver Island visit

Northern media report there are at least six current investigations into RCMP behaviour. Several Arctic politicians have called for body cameras on Mounties.

In June, video showed an apparently intoxicated Inuit man being knocked over by the door of a slowly moving police vehicle before he was arrested. He was taken to the detachment lockup where he was badly beaten by a fellow prisoner. The man was never charged.

There are historic grievances as well. The force has been criticized for its role in ushering Inuit into communities and killing sled dogs that would have allowed them to leave.

Nunavut RCMP were not available for comment.

New Democrat Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq said civilian oversight of police would be a good thing, but wouldn’t address why so many Inuit get into trouble in the first place.

“Where do we see violence? Where do we see crime? We see that where there is poverty.

“We see that in Nunavut because of the lack of basic human needs being met.”

She urged Ehaloak to look at other solutions to policing problems in Nunavut, pointing to Indigenous police services in other parts of Canada.

Qaqqaq said the federal government needs to step up to ease ills such as poor housing behind many of Nunavut’s social and criminal problems.

“The federal government is doing less than the bare minimum for Inuit people,” she said.

— By Bob Weber in Edmonton.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

NunavutPolice

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Spruce Hill Resort shut down for not following COVID-19 protocols

Guests told to leave immediately Wednesday evening, owner insists shutdown only temporary.

Mt. Timothy anticipates one of its busiest seasons

General manager Walter Bramsleven said the ski hill has improved its facilities and infrastructure.

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Williams Lake First Nation inks historic cannabis deal with B.C. government

The agreement paves the way for WLFN to sell cannabis to the government, and open stores across B.C.

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Four more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 31 active cases in isolation in the health region

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

Most Read