Popular Anglican cleric was despondent, drinking too much

Respected minister dies at age 61


Rev. James Nassak, appreciated for his passionate and humour-filled sermons as an Anglican minister, died  June 24 in Kuujjuaq.

Nassak, 61, a former residential school student, was originally from Pond Inlet, although he lived in Kuujjuaq for many years.

After leaving full-time duties as a minister, Nassak obtained a certificate from the Addiction Intervention Association, which recognized him as an associate counselor in 2001.

Nassak most recently worked as a pedagogical counselor for the Kativik School Board.

Of late, Nassak had been despondent and drinking to excess, according to those who knew well him in Kuujjuaq.

Nassak had been looking for alcohol on the afternoon he died, police said.

Members of the Kativik Regional Police Force were called to the scene of an accident on road the leading to the town dump about 2:30 pm on the afternoon of June 24.

Jobie Epoo, the interim KRPF police chief, said witnesses told police that Nassak had apparently rolled over in his truck.

“He was driving quite fast. I don’t think he was hurt much from the accident,” Epoo said.

“He then took a firearm. It was a suicide, definitely, in our opinion, and he shot himself.”

An autopsy was performed in Montreal. The funeral services were expected to have been held this past week. Nassak leaves behind his wife and grown children in Iqaluit, Kuujjuaq and Montreal.

Known as a “really good guy,” friends say Nassak did not seek help when he struggled to deal with his problems.

People in distress may call the Kamatsiaqtut helpline from anywhere in Nunavut or Nunavik at 1-800-265-3333 or at 979-3333 in Iqaluit.

People looking for written documents with information on suicide prevention, in English, Inuktitut and French, may download them from this web site run by the National Aboriginal Health Organization:  www.honouringlife.ca.

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