Debauched Saturday night leaves two dead, many charged

Police descend on tiny Kangirsuk


The Ungava Bay community of Kangirsuk, population 450, continues to be rocked by tragic deaths and violent upheavals.

Last Saturday night was no exception to this pattern. Before the sun rose on Sunday, one young woman was found dead, an elder died, and gunshots whizzed around town.

Kativik Regional Police Force constables struggled to maintain peace as the booze-filled night unfolded.

After a drunken party at the home of Marc Carrier broke up around midnight on Saturday, intoxicated guests took to the streets. Some apparently fetched firearms, which they discharged into the air.

Then, a call came in to the police, saying a nude woman lay on a mattress outside a residence. Police found she was dead, a discovery that started a chain of events that led to the arrival of a four-person KRPF back-up team from Kuujjuaq, followed by a major crimes investigation squad from the Sûreté du Québec detachment in Rouyn-Noranda.

Marc Butz, spokesperson for the SQ in Montreal said to assist investigators, the woman’s body had to be left in the position it was found in the back of a residence.

Covered from view, the sight nonetheless was a desolate image of violence for the community’s residents to consider.

SQ investigators noted the dead woman’s body had “signs of violence.”

“They determined it was a murder,” Butz said.

Sam Willie Grey, 28, was taken into custody and has been charged with first degree murder in the death of Kitty Thomassie, 35.

Others taken into custody in connection with the shooting spree include Morgan Lucassie, 18, who faces five charges, including dangerous use of a firearm, assault and uttering death threats; and Alec Nassak, 24, who faces a total of 15 separate charges for assaults, pointing a firearm and uttering death threats.

During early hours of Saturday, police also learned an elder was suffering significant respiratory distress. Emma Oovaut, 63, died later at the community’s nursing station. Alcohol is suspected to have played a role in her accidental death.

The atmosphere in Kangirsuk, a community renowned for its delicious Arctic char, has been turbulent for months. During 2005, an elder was raped, another elder was assaulted, and a group of youth, armed with two-by-fours and hockey sticks, threatened police, barricading the constables in their lodgings.

Last September, Sautjuit School closed for a day, to hear ideas from parents, staff and municipal leaders about how to improve the atmosphere for students who were affected by the events in the community. Then, in October, the residents of Kangirsuk marched through the streets in a protest spearheaded by the local justice committee and the school. Kangirsuk’s mayor, Joseph Annahatak, who led the parade, was re-elected in early November, on the hope he could restore harmony in his community.

Annahatak did not return a call asking for an interview in the wake of last weekend’s deaths.

To help Kangirsuk deal with last weekend’s events, a team from the KRPF and health board is in the community.

The violent death of Thomassie marks the first murder of 2006 in Nunavik. But, according to the KRPF, the month of January has been “crazy” throughout the region. Earlier this month, police seized a quantity of crack cocaine in one community, in addition to other seizures of drugs. Random shootings, armed confrontations, brawls, beatings, and suicide pacts also occurred over the past month.

Last weekend in Salluit, police say an intoxicated woman began to beat her young child. Another woman intervened, a fight ensued and both women were left injured and covered with bite marks.

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