Inquest jury recommends better language, cultural supports in crisis negotiations

Jury makes 11 recommendations to RCMP, Pond Inlet in Jessie Peterloosie inquest

The inquest into the 2018 death of Jessie Peterloosie in Pond Inlet concluded Friday with the jury offering 11 recommendations to prevent deaths in similar circumstances. (File photo)

By Madalyn Howitt

The inquest into the 2018 death of Jessie Peterloosie in Pond Inlet ended Friday with the jury making 11 recommendations to help prevent deaths under similar circumstances in the future.

Peterloosie, 26, died March 8, 2018, after barricading himself in his home with several firearms in a standoff with police that stretched over two days and lasted 18 hours.

An autopsy determined he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The six-member jury agreed at just past 10 p.m. on Friday with the coroner’s and RCMP’s counsels that Peterloosie died by suicide.

The weeklong inquest looking into the circumstances that led to his death heard emotional testimony from Peterloosie’s family members, who were worried about his mental health and safety.

Testimony also came from RCMP officers from Pond Inlet, Iqaluit and Edmonton who responded to the scene and crisis negotiators who tried to communicate with Peterloosie.

The jury recommended that Nunavut RCMP and the Hamlet of Pond Inlet:

  • Employ Inuktitut speakers and people with knowledge of Inuit culture in paid positions for crisis negotiations;
  • Contact mental health support workers immediately when a crisis is unfolding where a person is experiencing severe mental distress or may be suicidal;
  • Ensure there’s an effective means of communication among crisis intervention teams, critical command centres and local police officers through a common communication channel;
  • Ensure Nunavut crisis response teams have up-to-date tactical equipment for long-term containment situations;
  • Ensure crisis teams have sufficient members for long-term containment situations to prevent people from entering isolated areas;
  • Make loud hailing speakers available in Nunavut for containment situations to assist in crisis negotiations;
  • Hamlet should seek funding from the GN and Embrace Life Council to establish a local men’s youth group to promote positive interactions and relationships amongst men in the community;
  • RCMP might utilize the Canadian Rangers to assist in crisis intervention situations;
  • RCMP officers on active duty should wear body cameras and microphones;
  • RCMP should provide officers in Nunavut with appropriate gear for extreme cold weather;
  • GN should provide funding for gun cabinet purchases.

A coroner’s jury recommendations are not binding on the government agencies they might impact.

The inquest heard that on the night of the standoff, Peterloosie was experiencing mental distress and was angry at his cousin, who he allegedly pointed a gun at, as well as local police officers who he allegedly shot at as they drove away from his house a few days before.

Despite more than 30 police officers forming a containment perimeter outside Peterloosie’s house, several concerned relatives of the man were able to get near and even inside the house to talk with Peterloosie.

That included Peterloosie’s uncle, who wrestled two guns away from his nephew and brought them outside before Peterloosie shot himself with a rifle.

Several of the jury’s recommendations addressed ways to keep members of the public out of potentially dangerous containment situations and more effectively engage the community with crisis intervention.

The inquest was led by coroner’s counsel Sheldon Toner and presided over by Nunavut chief coroner Khen Sagadraca. The RCMP was represented by Jeffrey Major-Hansford.



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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by Nunavutmiut on

    Maybe this inquest should recommend that people do not interfere in any police operation. Looks like the public needs to be educated as well. Too much is put on the RCMP and little is ever put on the public.

  2. Posted by Oh? on

    “GN should provide funding for gun cabinet purchases”

    LOL! How about people learn to be responsible gun owners instead?

  3. Posted by how about gun control on

    Guns need more controls over them. People in this mental should no more have guns than children.

  4. Posted by Let’s act like children… forever on

    “GN should provide funding for gun cabinet purchases.”

    Unbelievable really…

  5. Posted by You don’t know on

    Housing problems are a real serious problem and ignoring it does not fix it.

    Religion is a dead end job.

    • Posted by 867 on

      Having less babies will ultimately solve the housing problem, but let’s ignore the solutions

  6. Posted by Truestory on

    Don’t forget. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Rifles don’t have brains.

  7. Posted by Tulugaq on

    The first recommendation is shocking: “Employ Inuktitut speakers and people with knowledge of Inuit culture in paid positions for crisis negotiations”. Nunavut is in a deep colonial situation when people in authority that deal with the public are unable to speak the language of the vast majority of Nunavummiut, Inuktitut. Inuit and their families are at a significant disadvantage when the police cannot communicate with them in their language.

    Sadly it’s not surprising since the Nunavut Court of Appeal determined that Inuktitut is akin to a foreign language like Vietnamese (referring to the Tran affair of the Supreme Court of Canada) in the Kingwatsiak matter where the accused had difficulty with translation for a murder case. The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the application for leave to appeal which makes the NCA decision final. Obviously the police and the court system are unable to serve Nunavummiut adequately and it has a significant impact on the communities that endure this persistent colonial system even today in the XXIst century. And some people thought that Canada was a post-colonial country!

    • Posted by Ya but on

      “Employ Inuktitut speakers and people with knowledge of Inuit culture”

      Good point but a challenging one without a simple solution. The boarding homes tried this too but needed reliable staff that were willing to show up to work every day. So now people wonder why it’s mostly non-inuit working there? This is even the case for many inuit owned businesses. Just look at Canadian North or Kudlik enterprise, they probably both wish that they had mostly inuit staff.

      As far as i know each RCMP detachment in Nunavut attempts to have an inuktitut staff member on staff. But, the job requirements are high and the pay not as good as GN (which let’s be honest overpays it’s staff)

      There is a need for more inuit staff and especially inuktut-speaking staff. But there is also a large portion of the population who either doesn’t have the credentials for a job or places their job as a lower priority over other aspects of their lives.

      Working a 9-5 job is colonial, but it is what Nunavut has become. Hopefully one day the boarding home will have more inuit staff.

      • Posted by John WP Murphy on

        Let’s not forget that during the time that Pairijait Tigumivik operated the boarding home, 95 % of the staff were inuit and fluent in Inuktitut.

        What happened?

        How do you say “GN interference” ??

    • Posted by Show Up on

      Between free tuition and an obvious fast track into careers in this sector, from police to counselling to senior management roles in Justice, Inuit should really step up and occupy the field. Yes, Inuktitut is not protected under the Constitution like French and English. It will never be. We will not see the Constitution opened barring a third world war.

    • Posted by enosamm on

      The RCMP does have a Inuktitut speaking person trained in crisis negotiation currently.

  8. Posted by Coroner on

    our deepest condolences to family and friends for there loss. its difficult to go through this process. Look at the history of recommendations from Coroners Inquests , how many were successfully implemented. Inquests are very expensive and lawyers get rich by this circus when they are none binding ? waste of tax payers money that coroners office is spending . Collect all jury recommendations and implement them first to prevent deaths .


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