Qikiqtani Inuit Association joins Indigenous Groups across Canada to demand an end to systemic police violence
The Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) echoes the voices of Inuit across Nunavut to call for an end to systemic violence at the hands of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). We are disappointed to see that discriminatory attitudes and practices captured in the Qikiqtani Truth Commission report continue to plague our communities today. QIA joins Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) to call for the establishment of an independent, alternative civil oversight body. The RCMP cannot be tasked with investigating themselves.
In the wake of Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the United States and Canada sparked by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police, we have seen disturbingly similar conducts from our own police forces in Canada. This week also marks the anniversary of the release of the final Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report.
On Tuesday June 2, Inuit were flooded with social media posts and messages regarding a Facebook video showing RCMP officers using excessive force, to arrest a young Inuk man in Kinngait, Nunavut. An RCMP vehicle with the driver’s door open knocked down a young Inuk man and five officers proceeded to forcibly restrain him while young children watched. The young man later suffered injury while in police custody but was not immediately taken to a health centre. The young man was subsequently flown by air ambulance to hospital in Iqaluit, where he received medical care for his extensive injuries.
Not only did the RCMP officers fail in the way they apprehended this young Inuk man, but they also failed to carry out their duty to protect him while in custody.
To date, only one of the five officers depicted in the video is being investigated. Furthermore, the RCMP are only investigating the man accused in the beating during custody, not the RCMP in charge.
Since 1999, there have been at least 15 deaths in Nunavut at the hands of the RCMP. Since January 1, 2020 the Ottawa Police Service has been asked to investigate five incidents involving the Nunavut RCMP. Nunavut incidents of police violence are nine times higher than Ontario.
These incidents beg the question, is the police the right body to respond to issues of crisis in our communities? Is the police force the best institution to address crisis incidents where mental health and substance abuse are at play?
Prime Minister Trudeau and our own Premiere Savikattaq have acknowledged the reality of systemic racism in Canada. Incidents like this cannot continue, Nunavut needs real action and civilian oversight to ensure the safety of our communities.