At MMIWG inquiry, Nunavut parents struggle with senseless deaths
“She was afraid for her own life”
(This story contains details that might upset some readers)
RANKIN INLET—More than three years after Edith Angalik was murdered, her parents still can’t make sense of her death.
Emilia and Arsene Angalik continue to grieve the death of their daughter who, in 2014, was beaten to death by her partner.
But Edith’s death could have been prevented, her parents told the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman, during its three-day hearing in Rankin Inlet.
The Angaliks knew Edith was being abused and pleaded with police to intervene in the weeks before she died.
“She was afraid for her own life,” Emilia told the inquiry Feb. 21. “She said if we tell on him, he would come after us too.”
Once the Angaliks reached out to the RCMP, police approached Edith to give a statement of facts about the abuse, but she refused to speak to police.
Because she was an adult, police said there was little more they could do.
Edith and her partner Dwayne Sateana were drinking at a friend’s house Nov. 21, 2014, when Sateana left around 3 a.m. to find another party.
When he returned an hour later, Sateana found Edith with another man. He beat the woman unconscious and was later spotted dragging her lifeless body down the street in -30 C temperatures.
Edith was 24 and a mother to three children. She loved hunting, fishing and cracking jokes.
After her death, her mother Emilia said the police tried to reach out the family to offer support.
“But it was too late,” Emilia told commissioners. “Where was the help when I needed it?”
The wounds are still deep, said the Angaliks, who now care for their three grandchildren.
Sateana, who had a history of abuse, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is serving a 13-year sentence.
The Angaliks opted to testify at the commission to urge authorities to respond to cases of domestic abuse before they become fatal.
“There was too much red tape,” said Edith’s father, Arsene.
“We have to let it out. We want this to end.”
“I would like her remembered”
In Nunavut’s Baffin region, another family grieves the loss of another young woman and mother: Tracy Uttak, who was stabbed to death at her Igloolik home in 2012.
Unlike Edith Angalik’s death, there were no warning signs that Uttak might have been at risk.
On Nov. 29, 2012, Uttak, 26, was home with her four children while her husband was out on a hunting trip.
A 16-year-old man showed up at her home that evening with plans to rob cash and marijuana from Uttak’s home. While he was there, he stabbed Uttak 27 times in her body, face and neck.
The woman’s mother, Martha Ammaq Uttak, recounted the gruesome story to MMIWG commissioners Feb. 22.
“He told the children: if you cry, I’m going to kill you,” Uttak said.
“That’s why my grandchild cannot cry up to today, because he feels he will be killed if he does.”
Her killer suffered from severe mental health issues, and though he was held criminally responsible for Tracy’s death, his second-degree murder charge was downgraded to manslaughter, of which he was convicted in 2015.
Though he was convicted as an adult, his identity remained protected under a court order because he was only 16 at the time he committed the crime.
To this day, Uttak cannot understand why the man couldn’t have just taken the cash and marijuana her daughter offered to him, and then left. She called him a bully who was spoiled by his parents.
“Why did he do this to Tracy?” Uttak said. “She was trying to give him money and the weed. And he didn’t want those, he wanted to kill her first.”
Uttak described her daughter as a kind and caring woman, who was an important source of support to her wider family.
Tracy often helped others who were in need of clothing or food, Uttak said, and she wants Canadians to know that.
“I would like her remembered,” she told commissioners. “I would like her character emulated.”
The inquiry held its first-ever Nunavut hearings in Rankin Inlet Feb. 20-22. The inquiry’s toll-free support line is available 24 hours a day at 1-844-413-6649.