Police to meet hamlet officials after eased liquor rules spawn protest in Arctic Canadian community

People in Kugluktuk, Nunavut say there is much more violence in the community after liquor restrictions were lifted last year, and RCMP aren’t keeping up with their calls for help. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Nunavut, Arctic Canada say they are planning to meet with Kugluktuk’s mayor and senior administrative officer after about 30 people protested in front of the local detachment Wednesday afternoon.

Resident Quentin Norberg rallied his peers to send the police a message — the community needs them to respond more quickly to calls for service.

“A lot of us in the community want to know why it takes so long to put their uniforms on, their buckle on and do their job,” he said.

“What have we done as a community to those members for them to ignore us? We’ve done nothing. We are all equal.”

Norberg said alcohol is a big problem for the community since residents voted to lift liquor restrictions last October. He says there is more domestic violence, more fights, and more drunk drivers.

“We see a lot of things on a daily basis and it’s practically every couple days there are calls [to RCMP],” said Norberg.

About 30 people showed up to protest after they say RCMP are not being proactive enough about answering calls for service. (Submitted by Ronnie Tologanak)

“Our people talk to their family and friends about it and that news gets out … by the end of the day we’ll know there’s unanswered calls. We know.”

Kugluktuk Mayor Ryan Nivingalok says after the liquor restrictions were lifted, the community has risen to third in the territory for calls to RCMP for service.

“We expected there would be an influx of calls to RCMP but we didn’t expect it to last this long and be this bad,” he said.

Nivingalok said in the past few weeks things have ramped up with more drunk drivers and violence in the community, including one instance where an intoxicated man assaulted a child in front of the child’s friends. He said his son witnessed the event.

Nivingalok said RCMP didn’t respond to that call.

“They returned the call and said it’s not a priority,” he said.

The police didn’t respond to specific questions about unanswered calls for service in the community, but did send out a press release saying the force is “gathering further information” and is “looking to meet” with community leaders in the near future.

Written by Randi Beers, based on interviews by Avery Zingel

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Study gives Canada’s northern territories failing grades on curbing alcohol harms, CBC News

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