Longtime Nunavut couple still considered residents after leaving for medical reasons

‘They are prisoners of circumstance,’ judge Bychok says of Randy and Betty Ann Eaton

A Nunavut Court of Appeal decision strikes the guilty pleas in an assault case, after the accused argued he did not enter the pleas voluntarily. The matter has now been remitted for trial. (File photo)

By Jane George

A Nunavut couple that has lived in Ottawa since 2012 can still be considered residents of the territory under the Guardianship and Trusteeship Act, a Nunavut judge has ruled.

Judge Paul Bychok determined that Randy and Betty Ann Eaton were not in Ottawa of their own choice, but so Betty Ann could receive continuing medical care.

Betty Ann was born and raised in Iqaluit. She and Randy met there in 1991. They married, raised a family and remained in the city until 2012, when Betty Ann suffered a debilitating stroke and was medevaced to Ottawa.

Betty Ann wanted Randy to continue to act as her guardian, Bychok said, but, for that to continue, the court had to decide whether Randy satisfied the residency requirement of Nunavut’s Guardianship and Trusteeship Act, which is based on legislation inherited from the N.W.T.

“They are prisoners of circumstance,” Bychok said in his judgment, released Monday.

“The Eatons have had to remain in Ottawa for one reason only: Mrs. Eaton cannot get the ongoing medical treatment she requires in Iqaluit.”

According to the ruling, no other Canadian jurisdiction other than the Northwest Territories requires a guardian to be a resident in the same jurisdiction where a guardianship order is sought.

The court first appointed Randy to be Betty Ann’s legal guardian on July 24, 2013, and again on Jan. 22, 2015, for a period of five years.

After the most recent guardianship order expired in July 2020, Nunavut’s Office of the Public Guardian applied to the court to determine whether the couple still met the required residency guidelines for the guardianship to continue.

Bychok ruled that Betty Ann continued to need the ongoing assistance of a guardian, and that “continuation of the guardianship would substantially benefit her.”

“Mr. and Mrs. Eaton are Nunavummiut,” Bychok said. “The Eatons, like those we often refer to as wards of the state, are not living outside Iqaluit and away from home by choice. They are prisoners of circumstance.

“I am satisfied that Mr. Eaton in these circumstances remains a Nunavut resident. To rule otherwise, I am confident, would shock the conscience of objective and informed Nunavummiut.”

Public Guardian and Eaton v Eaton, 2021 NUCJ 21 (1) by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Jay Arnakak on

    for those who might feel a need to make snarky and racist remarks/comments: don’t. This ruling is compassionate and just and very IQ.

    • Posted by Guy Guy on

      I legitimately do not understand your comment and why you’d feel someone would say something like that? Can you please elaborate? I read the article 3 times and cannot connect your comment to it.

      • Posted by Jay Arnakak on

        are you being disingenuous? -honestly, my question is sincere.

        (I can’t believe I took the bait, but) you just need to check out what passes for public discourse in the DM-verse to realize that my concerns are very legitimate. I just feel protective of all Nunavummiut regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender identification, etc.

        racism is an equal opportunity rose-coloured lens that clearly gives its wearers the impression that deviant behaviors and thinking are the norm.

        • Posted by Guy Guy on

          I am being sincere when I ask you why you think snarky and racist comments would be associated with a legal decision about provincial/territorial residency? I do not doubt you I am just trying to understand. All I can take from your last comment is that racism is a general problem in society. Granted, but I don’t understand what could be said to be racist about this decision?

          • Posted by Jay Arnakak on

            I was just going to bite my tongue and leave it at that, but

            have you ever heard of the Turing Test, Guy Guy?

            you just proved that trolling would skew anyone’s conclusion that you are not a real person.

          • Posted by The Crowd on

            There is nothing about the decision that is racist. However, it is the sort of article that historically would be bring out the ‘go back where you came from’, ‘Nunavut for inuit only, the rest are guests’ crowd.

            • Posted by Jay Arnakak on

              thank you, The Crowd.

            • Posted by Guy Guy on

              Ah, I hadnt approached it thinking about the usual local banter about the come from aways.
              I am guilty of trolling often enough but not this time. Thanks for connecting the dots.


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