Crime rates slightly down in Nunavik — but not across the board

Impaired driving causing injuries, minor mischief way up in 2020

KRPF Chief Jean-Pierre Larose, left, and Deputy Chief Jean-Francois Morin speak to Kativik Regional Government councillors in September 2019. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

The Nunavik police say that region’s crime rates continue to be lower throughout the region since the beginning of the pandemic in all but two areas — impaired driving causing bodily harm and mischief.

In late March 2020, when COVID-19-related measures were put into place across Quebec, Nunavik officials implemented a nighttime curfew for all 14 communities and put limits on the amount of alcohol residents could purchase, either locally or from southern retailers.

Even since the curfew was gradually lifted last spring, the Kativik Regional Police Force says it has noted a drop in police interventions and detentions.

The public response to COVID-19 measures has been “excellent,” KRPF officials told Kativik Regional Government council meetings on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

“Everywhere else, criminality has been down quite a bit, likely due to the restrictions in place,” the KRPF’s deputy chief, Jean-François Morin, told KRG councillors.

In fact, statistics show the total number of criminal incidents in Nunavik so far in 2020 is at 10,031 — down just 68 incidents from last year. Non-criminal incidents or assistance calls are down from last year, too: 4,298 this year from 4,920 in 2019.

But Nunavik police say incidents of impaired driving causing injuries are up by 70 per cent this year, while incidents of minor mischief are up by 97 per cent this year.

“Since COVID-19 has been here, we’ve seen a large increase in the number of cases of mischief,” Morin explained. “We credit that to the pandemic, with the school and gyms and arenas being closed — all the measures being put in place.

“And impaired driving causing injuries went up — that’s a concern.”

To tackle that, the KRPF has begun setting up roadblocks in Kuujjuaq. In October, the police said they intercepted 75 vehicles in the community and arrested two individuals.

Morin said the KRPF plans to expand that campaign to other communities in 2021. The KRPF has ordered breathalyzers for Salluit and Puvirnituq and plans to deliver more to other communities in the new year.

Detainees continue to be flown via charter to Amos

The Nunavik police said the pandemic has helped to firmly establish the need for an air link between Nunavik and the provincial detention centre in Amos, to ease the transfer of detainees to and from the region.

Previously, many Nunavik detainees were first flown to Montreal and then transferred to Amos by van, which could require two weeks of travel between the time of arrest and bail hearing.

The KRPF started to facilitate charter flights directly to Amos in 2019 as part of a pilot project. So far this year, the KRPF has chartered 48 flights to and from the region.

But KRPF Chief Jean-Pierre Larose says the police force is still in discussions with the Quebec government about making the charter a permanent, government-funded service.

“The goal is to facilitate access to justice for defendants in Nunavik and to be, when possible, released with shorter delays in the region,” Larose told regional councillors on Nov. 24.

The service will continue into 2021, but the KRG will be footing the bill for now.

During KRG meetings, councillors passed a resolution allowing the executive committee to finalize the terms of a contract for aircraft charter services next year to and from Amos, up to a maximum of $1 million.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by ‘Access to Justice’ on

    If we actually cared about ‘access to justice’ in Nunavik, we would have a real courthouse for the region, because as it stands now even the one in Kuujjuaq is literally falling apart and broken. We’d also have a prison in the region, so there would be no need for air links and vans to Amos, a town which is already nearly inaccessible for many people from Montreal. Lawyers refuse cases because they don’t want to go to Amos, inmates lose services because there’s less in Amos. People end up stranded leaving Amos, elders from Montreal can barely get there, so many more problems. They call it a suitable place to put Inuit inmates, just because they painted a mural with a goose on one of the windowless walls…
    Access to justice would mean a real court and a real prison, all within Nunavik. Then there would be no more need to keep spending money flying eveyone back and forth all the time for the most trivial reasons. Sometimes they spend thousands flying people back and forth multiple times, wasting time and money for everyone involved, only for the person to be found innocent. It’s a joke that needs to be fixed. They want a million per year just to fly to Amos when the money could go to real infrastructure in Nunavik.. giving jobs to build, jobs to guard, better access to lawyers in the community if they have real spaces to stay and meet with clients instead of rushing everyone through a cramped door.

    • Posted by I agree on

      I agree, we need to be heard, we want to be heard, not just talk about it. No more sending our people downsouth.

    • Posted by Wrong energy channel on

      You should put your focus on promoting wellness instead of worrying about infrastructure. Gets involved in your community to help lower the crime rate. Never mind elders can’t make it to Amos. What an elder from Nunavik want to Amos for? Off course there should be better court house. But for a small population, the crime might be down slightly, but it’s incredible. Have you had personal experience with a ride in a van to Amos? Tell us your story.

    • Posted by Prison in Nunavik on

      If we had a prison in Nunavik, it would show the real number of people in jail at any given time. I bet the prison would be housing as many as a small town. The number of people from Nunavik in jail is staggering. There’s a need to show the numbers. One day, the person is in town , next day in jail. We only know they’re back from jail, when their name appears on fm to call someone, or a welcoming song , to welcome them home again to go to jail again soon.

  2. Posted by Access to justice on

    Access to justice won’t solve crime. It’s crime ! Not access to justice. In Nunavik, the way of thinking is messed up. Yes a new court house, and people will start behaving better. A jail, and do crime and stay home instead of a real jail. Get the court house and jail decorated with cultural friendly paintings, someone would make a few dollars. Get some programs so people will like going to jail, oh yes can see it now.

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