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

No new leads in Brown homicide case

Five-year mark passes without any additional information provided to police

Grant applications approved for Crofton to Maple Bay Trail and Fuller Lake Arena roof replacement

North Cowichan also planning to look into illegal secondary suites

North Cowichan launches survey on the future of community engagement

Clarifying how community input can influence the municipal decision-making process one of the goals

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Lairds mark landmark 65th anniversary this summer

Love story endures the test of time and not defeated by COVID pandemic

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

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

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

Most Read