Nunavut man called “violent sexual offender” in NWT faces new charges at home

NWT RCMP issued public warning about Jonah Keyuajuk in 2015


Jonah Keyuajuk, shown here in a photo circulated in 2015 by the Yellowknife RCMP, faces 10 charges in related to incidents alleged to have occurred recently in his home community of Pangnirtung. (FILE PHOTO)

Jonah Keyuajuk, shown here in a photo circulated in 2015 by the Yellowknife RCMP, faces 10 charges in related to incidents alleged to have occurred recently in his home community of Pangnirtung. (FILE PHOTO)

A Pangnirtung man described as “a violent sexual offender who poses a risk of significant harm to the public” by the Northwest Territories RCMP in Yellowknife, returned to his home community this spring, where he was arrested May 22 on 10 new allegations, most of them sex-related.

The heavily tattooed Jonah Keyuajuk, 44, appeared May 31 in the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit for an appearance related to 10 counts, including sexual assault, sexual interference, forcible confinement and breaking parole conditions.

Last August, the Yellowknife RCMP issued a warning to the public and circulated Keyuajuk’s photo, urging people in the city to avoid him.

“The Yellowknife RCMP is issuing this information and warning after careful deliberation of all related issues, including privacy concerns, in the belief that it is clearly in the public interest to inform members of the community about Jonah Keyuajuk,” said the warning, which was accompanied Keyuajuk’s photo.

You can read more about how the RCMP in Yellowknife continually warned members of the public about Keyuajuk with updated online releases during August and September of 2016 here.

But the Nunavut RCMP issued no similar warning after Keyuajuk returned to Pangnirtung, after his latest release from jail in Yellowknife, where he had finished a four-month sentence.

If Keyuajuk had planned to leave the NWT for Nunavut, he would have needed approval from the probation system to leave — and that could have led to a similar warning from the RCMP in Nunavut, Nunavut RCMP spokesperson Cst. Lurene Dillon said June 11.

Several such warnings have been issued in the past — examples date to 2010, when the RCMP warned Cambridge Bay about the release of a sex offender who spent five years in prison, 2008, when the RCMP issued a warning about a sex offender in Iqaluit who posed “a serious risk to the safety of the public,” and 2006, when the RCMP sent out two warnings, about a man who had served a sentence for manslaughter and another who had a string of violent crimes on his record.

The decision to post such a warning isn’t one that the RCMP takes on its own accord, Dillon said.

That would come from a prompt from the justice or corrections system: the RCMP doesn’t send out such releases to inform communities about every released offender in Nunavut, she said.

While the RCMP wouldn’t send out a public warning on its own, Dillon, who said she was not aware of all the details of Keyuajuk’s return to Nunavut, said the RCMP would support such a measure in the case of a repeat violent offender like Keyuajuk.

The NWT RCMP told Nunatsiaq News that the warnings issued on Keyuajuk in 2015 were a result of a “collaborative process between several agencies, including the RCMP, GNWT Department of Justice, GNWT Corrections, Correctional Services Canada and Public Prosecution Services Canada.”

Keyuajuk already had a long criminal record full of violent offences and had served considerable jail time before his recent return to Pangnirtung.

These crimes, some of which date to when Keyuajuk previously lived full-time in Nunavut, include assaults, sexual assaults, assaults causing bodily harm, aggravated assaults, aggravated sexual assaults, uttering death threats and drug offences.

In 1993 and 1995 he received short jail sentences for assault and assault with a weapon. In 1997, he received a penitentiary term of seven years for an aggravated sexual assault.

“Currently he does pose a risk and a danger to society,” said NWT Justice Louise Charbonneau eight years ago, on Aug. 24, 2007, when she sentenced Keyuajuk to three years and 11 months on three charges including assault, assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon.

These offences also took place when Keyuajuk was on probation, online court documents show.

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