Canada’s Arctic province wants to stop relying on Ottawa police force to investigate police shootings

Territorial Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak says it’s a priority for her government to stop relying on other police forces to investigate the actions of the RCMP. (David Gunn/CBC)
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 Inuk man.

Territorial Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak says it’s a priority for her government to stop relying on other police forces to investigate the actions of the RCMP.

She says the government is bringing forward legislation to authorize civilian groups for that work.

She made the comment the day after the Ottawa Police Service released its findings into the death of Attachie Ashoona, who was shot by RCMP in Kinngait, Nunavut, in February.

Ottawa police concluded the RCMP did nothing wrong in the shooting. They came to the conclusion without releasing any information on the circumstances of the shooting. Ashoona’s name had been withheld until this week.

Kinngait Mayor Timoon Toonoo says the hamlet council is still waiting for more information on Ashoona’s death.

CBC recently collected and analyzed data that showed Inuit in Nunavut are dying during interactions with police at a rate significantly higher than in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Ontario.

CBC also found that between 1999, when Nunavut was created, and 2009, there were three police-related deaths in the territory, according to the territory’s chief coroner’s office.

Between 2010 and July 2020, there have been 13 police-related deaths, for a total of 16 deaths in 21 years.

“It looks like there’s something systematic here,” Anthony Doob, a professor emeritus of criminology at the University of Toronto with 40 year’s experience analyzing crime statistics, told CBC News earlier this summer.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: No charges in police-related death in Arctic Canada, Ottawa police say, CBC News

Finland: Police response times up to an hour slower in Arctic Finland, Yle News

Russia: Police crackdown on Putin opponent’s offices in Arctic Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Film exploring racism against Sami wins big at Swedish film awards, Radio Sweden

United States: Lack of village police leads to hiring cops with criminal records in Alaska: Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Public Media

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