Vandals trash Nunavut school, steal money, equipment over Easter

Suspects take video surveillance equipment to remove evidence

By STEVE DUCHARME

Rachel Arngnammaktiq Elementary School in Baker Lake, where vandals broke multiple windows and doors, stole $1,000 in cash and took video surveillance equipment. (GOOGLE IMAGES)


Rachel Arngnammaktiq Elementary School in Baker Lake, where vandals broke multiple windows and doors, stole $1,000 in cash and took video surveillance equipment. (GOOGLE IMAGES)

The RCMP believe that one or two people are behind a break-in at the Rachel Arngnammaktiq Elementary School in Baker Lake over the Easter long weekend, when someone broke doors and windows, stole about $1,000 in cash, and took video surveillance equipment, Cpl. Henry Coman of the Nunavut RCMP “V” Division said yesterday.

Because of the vandalism, the school closed temporarily.

Coman said the break-in occurred some time between March 31 and April 2, when school staff and students were away.

About 10 windows and 10 doors were damaged during the break-in, and roughly $1,000 was stolen from a safe, the RCMP said.

The suspects also removed the school’s video surveillance equipment, so no video of the break-in is available to investigators.

“Based on the evidence at the scene, RCMP believes one or two people were involved in this incident,” Coman told Nunatsiaq News on Thursday, April 5.

The break-in was discovered by the school’s principal when she arrived at school on the morning of April 3.

About 250 of the school’s kindergarten to Grade 5 students were told to stay home April 4, but were allowed to return the following day for regular classes.

The executive director of Kivalliq School Operations, Bill Cooper, said he credits the school’s staff for the quick turnaround, after they cleaned up the damage following a Wednesday staff meeting.

“The staff wanted to engage, role up their sleeves and get things back to normal. Staff came together to get this building back in a state where the students… may not have noticed anything different,” Cooper said.

Cooper said most of the damage took place in the school’s administrative areas.

But the vandals also broke into the school’s gym, kitchen and three classrooms, strewing large amounts of broken glass across the floors.

“Although the damage was very traumatic and upsetting, it could have been a lot worse, and it’s been made better by the efforts of that school,” Cooper said.

Custodial staff from Baker Lake’s Jonah Amitnaaq Secondary School volunteered their time, and a heavy-duty floor vacuum, to help the elementary school staff clean the broken glass quickly.

“It’s a good example of cooperation, from all levels of the community,” Cooper said.

No suspects have been named yet in connection with the break-in, and police said their investigation continues.

Two of the school’s three damaged classrooms were operating by the time students returned to class on April 5, Cooper said, they used additional space inside the school to make up for the remaining damaged classroom.

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