Vandalism leading to vigilantism in Nunavut community: MLA

“Residents are frustrated to the point that they’re thinking of taking the law into their own hands”

By DAVID MURPHY

Vandalism in the Nunavut town of Rankin Inlet is driving many residents to despair, Rankin Inlet MLA Tagak Curley said Sept. 6 in the Nunavut legislature. (FILE PHOTO)


Vandalism in the Nunavut town of Rankin Inlet is driving many residents to despair, Rankin Inlet MLA Tagak Curley said Sept. 6 in the Nunavut legislature. (FILE PHOTO)

There’s an “epidemic” of vandalism in Rankin Inlet, Rankin Inlet North MLA Tagak Curley told the Nunavut Legislative Assembly Sept. 6 during question period.

This has now caused people to take the law into their own hands, Curley said.

Vandalism and theft in the community of about 2,260 people is “occurring on almost a nightly basis,” he said, adding that “current law enforcement efforts are unsatisfactory.

“Stolen [all-terrain vehicles] have been driven, and loudly, throughout the streets of Rankin Inlet at all hours,” Curley said.

Recently an elder tried to take back his ATV when he noticed it had been stolen. He chased the thief around town for three hours, according to Curley.

“I’m concerned that the residents are frustrated to the point that they’re thinking of taking the law into their own hands,” Curley said.

That issue should be brought up at a Kivalliq mayor’s meeting next week in Rankin Inlet, he suggested.

When asked for his feedback on the problems facing people in Rankin Inlet, Daniel Shewchuk, Nunavut’s minister of justice, said he hadn’t heard of the “chronic vandalism” and theft of ATV’s in Rankin, but he acknowledged that was a concern.

Shewchuk encouraged the community to meet with the RCMP to deal with the issue.

“I think it’s very important the community come together to deter this type of activity that’s happening,” he said.

Shewchuk also warned people not to chase down stolen items.

“I encourage all people not to take the law into their own hands and get involved and chase people that are involved in damaging or stealing ATV’s or vehicles,” Shewchuk said, adding that people should report these incidents to the RCMP.

This isn’t the first time vandals have wreaked havoc in the community.

Last year eight teenagers were arrested in relation to a streak of petty crime, which included damaging refrigeration pipes in the local arena and stealing ATV’s from a local store.

More recently, a charter school bus service offered by Rankin’s Friendship Centre had to be cancelled because vandals “emptied two fire extinguishers into the back of the bus and damaged the wiring harness by yanking the wires out of the dash,” the executive director of the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre, George Dunkerley, said in a Facebook posting on the Rankin Inlet news group page.

As for the centre’s damaged bus, Dunkerley told Nunatsiaq News repairs will have to wait until money can be found to pay for them.

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