Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut June 08, 2018 - 9:20 am

On anniversary of sister’s death, Nunavut MLA calls for end to domestic violence

Adam Arreak Lightstone's sister and her daughters were killed on June 7, 2011

Nunavut MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone, who represents the riding of Iqaluit-Manirajak, stands in the territorial assembly chamber on June 7, the seventh anniversary of the violent death of his sister Sula Enuaraq, along with that of her two daughters. You can see the white lapel ribbon, a symbol of the movement of men and boys against domestic violence. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Nunavut MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone, who represents the riding of Iqaluit-Manirajak, stands in the territorial assembly chamber on June 7, the seventh anniversary of the violent death of his sister Sula Enuaraq, along with that of her two daughters. You can see the white lapel ribbon, a symbol of the movement of men and boys against domestic violence. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

Pushed by personal grief and family tragedy, MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone, who represents Iqaluit-Manirajak in the territorial legislature, spoke out in the assembly chamber Thursday against domestic violence.

June 7 marks the seventh anniversary of the death of his sister Sula Enuaraq, 29, and her two daughters, Aliyah, two, and Alexandra, seven, in Iqaluit.

They were found dead at their home, while Enuaraq’s husband, Sylvain Degrasse, 42, was found dead in the city’s cemetery earlier the same day, June 7, 2011, with a rifle across his chest.

Arreak Lightstone, wearing a white ribbon on his lapel to represent the movement of men and boys against domestic violence, first stood up to make a member’s statement to denounce domestic violence.

“Today’s date is one which my family and I mark with grief,” he said. “To lose close family members at a young age is always painful. To lose them as we did is unbearable.”

But, overcome with emotion, Arreak Lightstone had to pass his statement to his neighbour in the assembly John Main, MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove, who read in Arreak Lightstone’s place.

The statement’s message: to stop the silence around domestic violence, which occurs all too often in Nunavut, and is often association with mental illness and substance abuse.

“Government actions alone cannot prevent tragedies like the one that struck my family,” Arreak Lightstone’s statement said. “However, the decisions that we make as a government about where to invest our limited resources do matter, and doing what we can to stop domestic violence matters very much.”

Several of his fellow MLAs wiped away tears during the statement, reflecting the shared pain caused by widespread domestic violence in Nunavut: Iqaluit recorded the second-highest average in Canada for police-reported acts of violence against women between 2008 and 2015.

“I feel for you,” said Community and Government Services Minister Lorne Kusugak of Rankin Inlet, when he next stood up to speak in the chamber. “My aunt was murdered and it hurts every day.”

Later during the day’s proceedings, Arreak Lightstone tabled a document which contains 15 recommendations from an inquest by the Nunavut Coroner’s Office and the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee into deaths involving domestic violence.

These are designed to enhance risk assessment and provide more early intervention, he said.

They took five years to produce and were never released to the public, he said.

Arreak Lightstone said he wanted to make the recommendations public so the work of the inquest, signed off by Padma Suramala, who is no longer Nunavut’s chief coroner, was not in vain.

The recommendations will now become part of the public record of the Nunavut legislature on June 7, 2018 and will be posted online.

The recommendations can also be read below in the attached document.

Among the recommendations, calls for more public education and increased awareness and training for health care providers, police and teachers on domestic abuse as well as improved education on firearm safety.

The inquest report also includes a mention for the need to continue supporting Nunavut shelters.

Arreak Lightstone said he planned to raise questions in the legislature during this sitting about how well the Nunavut government had worked to respond to the recommendations.

Suggestions for actions to prevent domestic violence were also raised by Sula Enuaraq’s aunt, Susan, and Susan’s daughter Killaq Enuaraq-Strauss, who testified earlier this year before the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Rankin Inlet.

Sula Enuaraq had been a victim of abuse for many years, they said.

And they reported that, in the days leading up to Sula’s death, she had tried to get into the Qimaavik women’s shelter in Iqaluit, but was turned away because the facility was full.

Susan Enuaraq recommended that Nunavut consider opening transitional housing for women or men in need. Her wish: that her niece Sula’s house—the same residence where she and her children were murdered—could be made into transitional housing in her memory.

Her family also said the RCMP should have an Inuktitut-speaking staffer to inform families of hard news as well as mandatory cultural sensitivity training for the force’s officers and staff in Nunavut.

  Nunavut Coroners Report on Domestic Violence Deaths by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

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(12) Comments:

#1. Posted by Protection on June 08, 2018

Where is the protection for the people of Nunavut ?
As soon as anyone acts in self defence the law and social services
are all over them.
A man in our community, punched out an intruder and was blamed
for being violent.
The more you help, the more you are condemned.

#2. Posted by Sympathy to the family on June 08, 2018

My deepest sympathy to the family for there loss in this tragedy’s . Domestic violence is very common in Nunavut and many families are dying. The system failed to provide services to this family and this could be preventable. Good job Mr. MLA for bringing it to the light and Looks like the coroner must have faced lots of pressure not to release it to the public otherwise why it was not made public earlier?

#3. Posted by History Repeating on June 08, 2018

Thank you Adam. they are in our thoughts so often.
The Qammivvik Shelter is always full so it is vclear we need bigger ones where women can get child care while having intensive counselling.
Sivummut House for women who decide they are not going back and for those at risk of homelessness also needs a huge addition.
Once women make the hard decision not to go back for more violence, they find facilities are full!
We also need transitional housing so they can find a home for themselves and their children that is violence-free.
Even the other 2 Territories have this degree of infrastructure, buying whole apartment buildings in Yellowknife.
Why not here????
Get the lead out MLAs, don’t just look sad, get going!!!

#4. Posted by Sal on June 08, 2018

Again where have all our MLAs been the last 18 years?
I know Jack Anawak has been the only one over the years as a Leader, to bring up the two subjects of Partner Abuse and Child Sexual Abuse, God Bless him.
But what about the rest?  Why do they avoid Child Sexual Abuse and Partner Abuse
If we are the second highest in Canada, why, oh why do we steer away from talking about it in the Assembly, getting targeted campaigns going that state the obvious, that is is wrong, wrong wrong and totally unacceptable so. So go get help?
One women in an office about intimate Partner Violence is politically correct only and JUST DOESN’T CUT IT.
MLAs - Bring it up continually, put money behind the Marketing Campaign to change behaviour and get it out there!!!

#5. Posted by Housing housing housing on June 08, 2018

Thank you Adam. I can only imagine how difficult it was for you to write that heartfelt statement. I appreciate all the brave and challenging work your family have put into bringing attention to this issue.
The problem with Qimaavik is that it is designed as a temporary safety shelter but we have on-going issues of long-term violence and a private housing market that is inaccessible for the average Inuk and public housing wait-lists that are nearly a decade long.
We need a full compliment of housing options and supports for Nunavummiut that recognizes the complex and challenging living situations residents find themselves in. There have been numerous studies on the benefits of housing including the hidden returns! Decreased costs of policing and healthcare for a start!
Our housing system is broken. And everyone, women and children especially are paying the price.

#6. Posted by Daniel Burns on June 08, 2018

Well said Mr. Lightstone.  It is indeed high time that all of us focus on your recommendations and follow up with action. The status quo is unacceptable and has been for a long time.  We are supposed to be world leaders and our time to act like leaders is long over due.  Keep up the good work.

#7. Posted by Know person on June 08, 2018

It’s always devastating to loose a family member , even after many years you still get emotional when you talk about them. There is never and will be any closer to loss of loved ones and remains with us until we die. I have lost my parents and my best friend till date I feel the emptiness and miss them dearly. Wake up GN and highly paid Ministers and elected members stop covering up your mistakes, learn from your mistakes and protect your own people from this violence and prevent the deaths. Keep your egoism aside and take the recommendations positively.

#8. Posted by Curious on June 08, 2018

On day the Coroner just “disappeared” from Nunavut.

No one ever said why.

She is a “missing” woman.

Mr. Premier, please explain what happenned to her. and why.

If the Premier fails to do so, someone please ask the ‘Missing and Murdered Women” investigators to investigate her disappearance from Nunavut.

#9. Posted by Roxanne Kernighan on June 09, 2018

A very powerful statement. Good for you Adam to take action! We send our sympathy.

#10. Posted by Activist on June 10, 2018

I’m pleased to hear the politicians are speaking about domestic violence. Qimaavik is an emergency shelter for women and children fleeing violence. Nunavut is the only Territory/Province in all of Canada that does not have Second Stage Housing which is a place where women and children can live free of violence. When Nunavut became it’s own Territory in 1999, the women and children lost Second Stage Housing,  reason being, it is situatated in Yellowknife, NWT. Since 1999 our Inuit women and children have had no where to escape. Because of this,  women know they will be stuck with no options so they stay hoping things will get better in there family. Unfortunately, that hope can turn to tragity such as death, injury, and /or suicide. Without support for the all family members change is unlikely to happen. We need capital funding from the federal government to obtain Second Stage Housing. Once it is built the Government of Nunavut can provide the families with what they need to heal.

#11. Posted by Jim Little on June 10, 2018

Pardon my bluntness but I read nothing here or anywhere else that impresses me that our leaders or the general public have any clue how to address the issue of family violence and suicide beyond the list of well worn band-aid solutions.  The way I see it,Inuit have the opportunity to become Canadian leaders in addressing these issues in a meaningful way but their failure to evolve by clinging for dear life to old obsolete traditions has them blinded. Inuit’s failure to evolve is not unique in Canada, same thing for the vast majority of Canadians, it is just far more obvious here in Nunavut.
I will not enter into a debate here but will respond to an email.

#12. Posted by Iqalummiut on June 12, 2018

It doesn’t help that the woman’s homeless shelter hasn’t been open since last year so the homeless woman have been staying at the shelter for abused woman, most likely turning away woman that have been abused.

Ministers! look into this.

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