Nunavut to bring in civilian police review after arrest video: minister

Nunavut to bring in civilian police review after arrest video: minister

Nunavut to bring in civilian police review after arrest video: minister

Nunavut is planning its own civilian police review agency over concerns that Inuit are too often treated badly by RCMP.

“I will commit to taking action on a civilian-led investigation for serious incidents involving the RCMP,” Nunavut Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak said Friday.

“My department is already working on it.”

Video surfaced on social media this week that showed an apparently intoxicated Inuit man being knocked over by the door of a slowly moving police vehicle before being arrested. He was taken to the detachment lockup in Kinngait, formerly Cape Dorset, where he was beaten by a fellow prisoner badly enough to be flown to hospital in Iqaluit.

The man was not charged with anything.

“I was outraged. I was angry. I was hurt,” Ehaloak told The Canadian Press.

Those feelings were widely shared across the territory and reopened a long-running discussion about the relationship between Inuit and the RCMP.

A series of reports and lawsuits have suggested the force is losing whatever trust the Inuit had in it. Northern media report at least six current investigations into RCMP behaviour and several Arctic politicians have called for body cameras on RCMP officers.

Ehaloak acknowledges interactions between Inuit and police can be rocky.

“In some communities the relationship is great; in some communities it’s not.”

There’s a lot of history feeding the unease: from the slaughter of sled dogs in the 1960s to the RCMP’s role in moving Inuit off the land into communities. For some, Ehaloak said, distrust is deep.

“There’s a long history of mistrust. Incidents like the one at Kinngait show that systemic racism in our territory is real.”

That’s why, she said, the territory wants independent, third-party reviews of potential police abuse. Nunavut officers are currently investigated by Ottawa RCMP, she said.

“More needs to be done to ensure that wrongdoing is documented and investigated fairly.

“We need to improve confidence and trust. We need to destroy any unconscious bias and systemic racism that exists.”

She said the territory is likely to contract with an already existing body in the south for the reviews.

Ehaloak said the force wants the relationship improved as well. She notes the Nunavut government and V-Division — the RCMP section that polices the territory — have jointly signed an agreement to that effect.

She praises the efforts of current commander Chief Supt. Amanda Jones to visit every community and meet with every council in the territory. Every detachment now has Inuktut-speaking front-line staff who can help people in their own language, Ehaloak said.

But she said Mounties have to work harder to integrate themselves into the remote, tightly-knit communities into which they are posted — even if they’re only there for a couple of years.

“Even though you’re only here for two or three years, you can still become a part of the community.”

There are things the force could do right away to improve communication, she said, such as revitalizing the special constable program, which trained local people to work alongside RCMP officers.

And Ehaloak, who spoke after spending most of the day out on the sea ice off Cambridge Bay with her family, said cultural training for RCMP officers posted to Nunavut should be improved.

Whatever it takes to prevent another video like the one that surfaced out of Kinngait, she said.

“I hope this stops.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2020

— Follow @row1960 on Twitter

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press


Just Posted

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

File photo
Update: Leduc RCMP request assistance to identify armed robbery suspect

Leduc RCMP are searching for suspect involved in an armed robbery at the Leduc Giant Tiger.

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Most Read