Kuujjuaraapik-Whapmagoostui residents mourn mom, children
Grisly triple murder shocks Inuit and Cree
Residents of Kuujjuaraapik and Whapmagoostui are still in shock after the bloody triple-murder of a woman and her two children on Aug. 22.
Inuit and Cree residents of the two conjoined communities, with a combined population of about 1,500, are still wearing purple armbands handed out to mourners at the Aug. 29 funeral of Minnie Natchequan, 37, a childcare worker, and her two children, Dawson, six, and Peter, eight.
Peter Jr. Tooktoo, 35, the father of the children and Natchequan's ex-spouse, faces three charges of first-degree murder in connection with their deaths.
According to the Sûrété du Québec provincial police, Natchequan and her children died from knife injuries. A first responder to the scene said the living room and kitchen of the duplex unit was covered with blood, "like the Texas chainsaw massacre."
Some police and health workers who saw the horrific sight have taken stress leave to deal with their trauma.
The youngest boy was alive when police arrived, but died later at the nursing station.
A 14-year-old boy, who had gone to a local restaurant to pick up food, first called the Whapmagoostui First Nations Police for help.
Unable to reach them, he called the Kativik Regional Police Force, who often work with the Cree police during emergencies.
The teen said he heard noise from inside the home, but that the doors were locked.
Losty Mamianskum, the chief of the Whapmagoostui band, said the death of Natchequan and her two children demonstrates the lack of social services in the communities.
However, Kuujjuraapik has a five-room women's shelter – which often sits empty.
Alcohol flows freely, thanks to two bars – the social club and the Qilalugaq Resto-Pub, owned by the Kuujjuaraapik landholding corporation.
The bars shut down for a week following the three deaths, but have now resumed business.
Since then, a committee that comprises Cree and Inuit members have met the bars' managers to ask them to stop over-serving patrons.
The week before the incident, Peter Jr. Tooktoo had been let go from his job as driver for Kuujjuaraapik's elders van.
During her years with Tooktoo, Natchequan often sought help, sometimes staying in the local women's shelter with her children.
Tooktoo also suffered some injuries in the incident and was flown to hospital in Val-d'Or for treatment. Now in preventive custody, he will appear again in court Oct. 6 in Kuujjuraapik.
This is the second time since the beginning of 2008 that multiple violent deaths have occurred in Kuujjuaraapik.
Two Inuit elders died in a snowmobile collision on March 14, when an intoxicated man driving home from one a bar on a snowmobile rammed Mary Unganak Angatookalook Fleming, 72 and Mina Tooktoo Meeko, 70, (grandmother of Peter Jr. Tooktoo) in front of the community radio station.
Following a week of nightly prayer services at Kuujjuaraapik's St. Edmund's Anglican church, mourners of all ages filled the community's triple gymnasium to full capacity during the Aug. 29 funeral service.
"We shouldn't have to be here," Rev. Tom Martin said in his sermon.
Martin told mourners their vision of a community that's free from violence is possible.
But he said the responsibility for reaching this goal doesn't lie only with police and local leaders: it's also up to every resident.