Igloolik needs additional social workers and police, mayor says

Violent death renews calls for more resources

By JOHN THOMPSON

As Igloolik residents cope with the violent death of 43-year-old Kolitalik Innukuk this week, Mayor Paul Quassa says the community, now more than ever, needs more social workers and police.

Igloolik, with a population of about 1,550, only has one social worker, Quassa said, and two police officers, when "we're entitled to three."

He said he's asked the Government of Nunavut to address understaffing in these positions for "a good long time." So far, he's seen no change.

"When they aren't there to help," he said of the government, "we're in a dilemma."

The RCMP's forensic unit and general investigators swooped into Igloolik this week, following Innuksuk's sudden death of on Sunday, Dec. 9.

Police discovered him lying on the floor of a residence after they responded to a phone call around 1:30 a.m. He had no pulse.

Innuksuk was transported to the health centre, but nurses were unable to revive him. He was pronounced dead at 1:55 a.m.

Police had not pressed charges as of Nunatsiaq News deadline this week. An autopsy was to be performed on Innuksuk later this week.

Quassa described Innuksuk as "a quiet man" who grew up in Igloolik, spent many years in Ottawa, but returned several years ago to be with family. He worked odd jobs, and was considered a good interpreter.

In the early 1980s, Kolitalik formed a heavy metal band called "Northern Haze," which performed at music festivals in Iqaluit and once in Vancouver during Expo '86.

"I'm a musician and I love physics. I have my own theories. I like going out on the land and to party," Innuksuk says on his Bebo page, which lists Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and AC/DC as his favourite bands.

Igloolik residents were already grieving the death of two elders over the last month when Innuksuk died.

"We're taking this one day at a time, I suppose," Quassa said, "being together, and being strong."

In January a meeting is planned with police, social workers, church representatives and others to talk about social problems in town, Quassa said.

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