'If the KRPF can't protect the people, we should get the Sûreté du Québec.'

Nunavik elder suffers traumatic house invasion


KUUJJUAQ – An elderly Kuujjuaq woman woke up to a man battering down the outside door of her home late in the evening of Sept. 8.

Terrified, she called one of her sons to help, but the intruder vanished before he or the local police arrived.

Then, shortly before 3 a.m., the man returned to break-in the woman's home.

The traumatized elder finally managed to call another son, who threw a jacket on over his t-shirt and underwear and raced to his mother's home in his truck.

After the second break-in, constables from the Kativik Regional Police Force found the man hiding behind a nearby shed.

According to police, Matthew Gordon, 43, who has been in preventive custody since Sept. 9, was to appear this week before the Kuujjuaq traveling court to face charges of break-and-entering as well as a possible assault charge in connection with this incident.

The violent entry into the home of this peaceful and hard-working elder has left many in Kuujjuaq angry. They're frustrated over the shortfalls in the region's law enforcement and correctional systems and critical of the meager support elders receive in Nunavik.

One of the elderly woman's sons is outraged that police didn't keep better tabs on the accused, who had only recently been released from a federal penitentiary.

He said the lack of scrutiny points to no "proper policing" in Nunavik, where the KRPF has been struggling to rebuild and keep the peace at the same time.

"If the KRPF can't protect the people, we should get the Sûreté du Québec," he told Nunatsiaq News.

Elders are among the most vulnerable Nunavimmiut, says a 2005 survey. This survey painted an alarming picture of how the oldest and most traditional Inuit live in overcrowded homes on limited government pensions. Some have been the victim of serious crimes over the past few years, including sexual assault.

Others in Kuujjuaq say the failures of the corrections system set the stage for the brutal break-in.

They say they don't understand why Gordon was not under some form of supervision after his release from jail.

Nunavimmiut like Gordon who are released from federal prisons are generally on their own when they return to their home communities.

Corrections Canada says most Inuit prisoners spurn programs during their jail term. They end up serving their entire sentence and, as a result, don't have conditions to follow when they come home.

A study by Corrections Canada on Inuit in the federal corrections system in Quebec says nearly all Inuit inmates in the federal system have substance abuse problems, personal and emotional problems, and that two out of three would have trouble entering the work force.

All this means many quickly end up back in ­trouble with the law.

At a Kativik Regional Government meeting in June 2006, Corrections Canada officials pleaded with regional councillors to offer more help to inmates when they're let out of federal penitentiaries.

But the KRG councillors saw many reasons not to collaborate more with Corrections Canada on the release of federal inmates, including a lack of community resources and a concern for confidentiality.

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