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

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

The Thornhill Volunteer Fire Department responded to an engine Dec. 3 on Highway 16, using a compressed air and foam solution to extinguish the flames. (Submitted Photo/Krista Bowman)
Semi truck engine catches fire in Thornhill

Firefighters used a compressed air and foam solution to put out the fire

A volunteer committee is urging the provincial government to complete grizzly habitat mapping. (Ivan Hardwick photo)
Volunteer committee urges province to complete grizzly habitat mapping

Committee says only 18 of 37 watersheds have been mapped, province has spent $500,000 so far

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Terrace RCMP arrested an impaired driver and found illicit drugs, weapons and stolen property in the vehicle on Nov. 28, 2020. (File Photo)
Terrace RCMP arrest impaired driver in possession of weapons

Weapons, illicit drugs, stolen property found in vehicle

A COVID-19 exposure has been recorded at Centennial Christian School in Terrace. The exposure occurred between Nov. 23 and Nov. 26, 2020. (Centennial Christian School Facebook photo)
COVID-19 exposure recorded at Centennial Christian School in Terrace

It’s the first known school exposure in Terrace

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Most Read