Nunavut community says police aren’t responding to alcohol-related calls

“No one should feel unsafe in this community,” says letter from concerned Kugluktuk residents

Kugluktuk residents have asked to meet with both RCMP and hamlet officials to express concern over a rise in alcohol-related incidents in the Kitikmeot community. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

One of the signs protesters used at a July 25 demonstration in Kugluktuk urged RCMP officers to “do your jobs.” (Photo courtesy of Q. Norberg)

Residents of Kugluktuk say their local RCMP officers are not doing enough to serve and protect the community.

A few dozen community members protested outside Kugluktuk’s RCMP station on Thursday, carrying signs that urged officers to “do your jobs.”

Residents say that alcohol-related violence and other incidents are on the rise in the Kitikmeot community of 1,500, since the hamlet voted to loosen its alcohol restrictions last year.

Community members voted last October in favour of abolishing a local alcohol education committee, which has been in place since 2007 to monitor how alcohol was imported into the village.

The vote means there are no longer restrictions on bringing liquor into Kugluktuk.

But as alcohol-related incidents increase, residents say emergency calls made to police to report them are going unanswered, leaving many community members at risk.

“With restrictions lifted, we expected Kugluktuk to be unsettled, but didn’t realize it would be this bad,” said a letter sent both to the RCMP and hamlet July 24, signed by Barb Adjun and “concerned citizens of Kugluktuk.”

“The RCMP are not doing their jobs that they are hired to do. Phones are not being answered or they are being ignored, and our hamlet of Kugluktuk is brushing it off as the RCMP’s job.”

“No one should feel unsafe in this community,” the letter said.

Video footage of the July 25 demonstration shows a dozen or so community members standing outside the RCMP detachment holding signs and speaking to an RCMP officer.

“My grandchildren are getting beaten up by drunks,” one protester shouted at the officer. “And RCMP are doing nothing!”

Community members have asked the RCMP and the hamlet to hold a public meeting where residents can voice their concerns.

The RCMP responded to the allegations in a July 25 release, saying they take the community’s concerns “very seriously.”

“At this time we are gathering further information and we will be looking to meet with the mayor and the senior administrative officer (SAO) of Kugluktuk in the near future,” the RCMP said, noting the force has yet to set a date for that meeting.

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(41) Comments:

  1. Posted by Don’t Judge on

    If you’re going to complain about the Police around Nunavut. Maybe the Hamlet of the communities should start asking for more RCMP to be posted in certain places. With only two cops and high rising alcohol related crimes. They must have so much work to do and alcohol is not making it easy.

    • Posted by inuk on

      2 cops in the community of 1500^?…we have 4 officers sometimes 5 in a community of 500!

      • Posted by Two Cops? on

        They have four or five cops in Kugluktuk; just two on duty, and the others are on call.

        That is about one cop per 300 resident. Nationally there is about 1 cop per 2000 residents!

  2. Posted by Jeff on

    I have a suggestion. Identify all the stupid drunks and protest outside of their houses’. Bombard them with literature & tel calls to implore them to quit f’n drinking and disrupting the community. As for hamlet council members, set an example for the community and voluntarily abstain from drinking alcohol. The RCMP can only do so much… they weren’t the ones who voted to eliminate the Alcohol Control Committee… the residents of the community did?

  3. Posted by To Jeff on

    RCMP have been established into the community to serve and protect. The protest is saying they refuse to do this. Whether or not they voted against lifting restrictions has no bearing on the need for them to respond for help.
    You and I might not agree with the outcome but the community has the right to vote, same as the rest of Canadians who rely on the RCMP.

    • Posted by Jeff on

      RCMP are likely busy responding to more urgent! matters caused as a direct result of the removal of the Alcohol Control Committee. And they probably need a rest once in a while also to recharge & get set for another ‘action-packed’ day/night in Kug?

  4. Posted by Prediction made on

    Many people made this prediction about what the yes vote would mean for that community, I was one of those who knew this was coming. A community in distress because it can’t handle alcohol. When are people going to come to terms with Inuit inabilities to process alcohol. Inuit do you realize your reality? I’m in support of the RCMP on this. It’s a self made misery for the people by the people. The people should be left alone to make their own solution. But, protect the innocent, the kids, and other vulnerable people, but let the drunks tough it out. Or, the government should go in and cut off all alcohol to that community, and most other Inuit communities in our north land.

  5. Posted by Be wiped out on

    Saddest of all. If there were no intervention by our federal government, like supplying Services like the RCMP, this community would wipe itself out from alcohol based violence when in a short period. That’s easy to see. There no initiative within to stop the alcohol based violence without the southern government doing something. Ok, blame it on the south, because as you say, that’s where alcohol come from. It’s inuit choice to drink alcohol. If you make a decision to drink, and you can’t drink without violence, that’s no ones fault but your own. I don’t think anyone in the south , tampered with the voting process when this community made the choice to loosen the alcohol laws. I think if you are voting to have or not have alcohol, and if there are restrictions, then realize what this all means. It means you are not entitled to have alcohol. Alcohol should be illegal there, because it becomes a kind of dangerous weapon. A weapon used dangerously is breaking the law.

  6. Posted by Observer on

    I dare someone doing some of this complaining to follow the RCMP in a Nunavut community around for 48 hours, getting the same amount of sleep as the cops do, and then trying to say with a straight face they aren’t doing anything.

  7. Posted by Orman on

    This is the biggest farce I have ever read. Nunavut highest crime in Canada before all these plebiscites and now look at the increase in Kug and everywhere else. Get these protesters to work as a policeman for a day and they’d never ever complain again. The work our police and other caregivers do is not xhausting. Shame here.

  8. Posted by Kugluktukmuit on

    Heavy air in the community after the protest today.
    To the people who believe that change needs to happen; within each own-self and community as a whole, that is very valid.

    However, the protest today was for the people who believe in their rights, who’s rights were violated, who believed they’re concerns, thoughts and beings didn’t matter.
    The protest was for that unanswered call.
    The protest was for the mother who’s baby was attacked; who’s call went unanswered.
    The protest was for the wife/girlfriend who was violently attacked; who’s call went unanswered.
    The protest was for the person who was physically assaulted by an RCMP member but was made to think it was their fault, all because they were intoxicated.
    The protest was for the DUI calls that went unanswered.
    The protest was for the people who’s homes got broke into; who’s calls went unanswered.
    The protest is for the individuals who called a hundred times; the call went unanswered but witnessing certain individuals calls answered immediately.
    The protest was for the people who called for help at the most vulnerable and helpless times. The calls are unanswered

    With the restriction lifts, we expected Kugluktuk unsettled but didn’t realize it would be this bad.
    But that is not an excuse for anyone’s rights to be violated, to be gaslighted by authority who holds the law!

    Please note; alcohol and crime was always present in Kugluktuk prior to the restriction lift; it was always there but the mistreatment the community residents receive by current detachment has been present the past couple years and it’s becoming too much for our tiny town.

    I hope this reaches to the people who are; venerable, shy, intimidated or feel like you have no voice: you do have a voice, you do have rights!

    • Posted by Thanks for the data on

      My god. Thanks for the information. I hope the government takes this in its files on the behaviour of alcohol among your people in your small community. This is saddest and ridiculous. Can’t imagine, this is our country. You are destroying yourself. I always thought suicide was an individual hanging or gun shot, but I’m more educated now to see how suicide is really a whole community, but it has homicide accompanied with it. Call a national emergency on this.

    • Posted by Orman on

      Walk in their shoes for a day then. Call after call after call, yelling, screaming “come police my house party”. Kug people voted and made their bed knowing rcmp staffing levels no where near what is required to police in this Nunavut. They are burned out with fellow nurses and social workers having to police, council and “sew up” all your drinking calls. Five officers can’t work all day, work all night, guard prisoners, answer calls and more calls. Do you see them boating, spending time with family, getting some rest – NO they don’t have time for a moments rest.

  9. Posted by Inuujunga on

    As an Inuk. It hurts reading something like this. Especially when alcohol is related. With so much alcohol related crimes rising and us inuit are not happy about it. Time to forbid the booze. It’s causing so much problems. And hurting a lot of people. And I bet there are so much more alcohol related crimes than the other crimes. FORBID THE ALCOHOL!

  10. Posted by CallTheEmgerncyNumber on

    Have they ever tried calling the emergency number? People should realize they have to call the emergency number whenever the RCMP are out of their office.

  11. Posted by rcmp can do more for Nunavut communities on

    Policing in Nunavut is challenging but RCMP took an oath to serve and protect and most of the time, the RCMP members in Nunavut appear unwilling to help or do anything. They make you feel like you are bothering them when you ask for help. How many times have abusers walked free? How many times were children left in unsafe homes because no one cared to follow up? How many times did RCMP take forever to respond to a call during a time of urgent crisis or just did not go at all?
    RCMP Officers in Nunavut most of the time (not all) seem not interested in doing anything to help our community. They also do not have good relationship with Nunavut communities because they sometimes abuse power and do nothing much to help people but put people in the drunk tank.
    They will find every reason not to leave their house to respond to an emergency call.
    Nunavut needs to have RCMP officers who can do shifts to have 24/7 coverage;
    Calling the RCMP in Iqaluit to get help in another community after hours is not working for Nunavut communities where violence is high. You need police on the ground that can be reached directly and can respond right away after hours. I do not know who had this idea that RCMP detachments should close at 5 pm.
    Policing is an essential service and the Government needs to give more funding so that the RCMP can be available 24/7 and eliminate stand by only hours via Iqaluit.
    Also, RCMP needs to do Indigenous cultural training.
    RCMP Members can be some of the most uncaring and racist towards Inuit.
    As for the booze- tricky topic. Until Nunavut opens up alcohol treatment and detox centres in every community, alcohol will continue to be a problem.

    • Posted by Cultural training on

      RCMP doesn’t need to do cultural training, that’s optional. Why don’t inuit have RCMP from Nunavut? If you need a service from the south, I’m not sure , you can demand cultural training, it would be nice , but optional. It’s the same for other professionals that have to come north, when will inuit be participating in the service of professionals. Become one , then you will be the service and the culture.

      • Posted by Orman on

        I’ll tell you why no Inuit rcmp. GN pays waaay more money for less work and no stress. The few Inuit officers leaving in droves. GN offers big contracts. No Ph.D required here.

    • Posted by Orman on

      @you can do more – this is BIGGEST load of bunk I have ever read. The rcmp are saviours in the community and not paid enough put up with this foolishness. The good people of Nunavut know this.

      But gun calls, domestic violence – all crime are the highest in Canada. Your rant is almost as bad as Iqaluit’s Rant and Rave – Nunavummiut problems are always someone else’s fault. YOU voted for all the liquor you want. Not their problem.

    • Posted by Not unique on

      Most of rural Canada does not have 24/7 policing. It is the norm in many small towns for police to end at 5 pm with on call after hours. It is the norm to have to call a central dispatch (i.e 911) for emergencies, and sometimes you end up on hold. Police can’t do it all. Imagine working 9-5 and being up all night for a sustained period of time. Not many can do that. Imagine getting a call from a dispatcher, throwing on your gear and heading straight to the call, only to be verbally abused for being to slow. It’s a thankless job. Services can always be improved, but police alone can’t solve all the problems of society.

  12. Posted by Andy on

    Once again it’s someone else fault. Nunavumiut have to learn to take responsibility for their actions. As indicated in comments above, “Walk in the shoes of a RCMP officer for a day”, would be a great eye opener to understand the pressure the first responders are facing, on a hourly, daily and weekly basis. Alcohol brings our the bad in many individuals and responsible drinking has to be learned. It’s not that Coppermine never had alcohol in their community and it has been troublesome before. You cannot expect having the local detachments open for 24/7, staff need breaks and most of the officers have families too. The community has to come together and start meeting within, a protest based on unanswered phone calls will not help. There is always room for improvements, may this be the setup of the emergency number and notification of the RCMP officers and the communities behavior with, or without alcohol. Canadians in the south and people in any other country of the world had to learn to consume alcohol responsible, but they had hundreds of years and not just 70 years. However, indicating that a treatment center will eliminate alcohol related issues is not correct. Are they needed, yes, but always blaming someone else on the lack of treatment centers, not sufficient indigenous training of the first , or missing detox centers will not make a change. It takes a community to fix a community

  13. Posted by Suicide cause on

    Our suicide rate, and the campaign that’s on the go with suicide prevention. Let’s change it around to alcohol use prevention. Let’s campaign against that. Maybe if we do that, and become successful, then suicide will be prevented also. Surely this mess with inability to use alcohol, has caused suicide to be at this alarmingly high rate. It’s just people are not willing to admit that. It’s easy to see that suicide is as new as alcohol use among Inuit. The two go hand in hand.

  14. Posted by Protesting Wrong People on

    The people of Coppermine are protesting the wrong people.. they should be protesting at the Hamlet office for more funding for more RCMP officers!! It is ridiculous to expect that a detachment of 4-5 officers will work 9-5 Monday Friday and then also answer all calls 24/7 between 5pm and 9am! If I were the officers I wouldn’t go to some of those calls either! Especially when they dealing with same drunks day in and day out that never change. Or same victims of domestic violence that never press charges yet call because their spouse beat them again and again. Us INUK need to take matters into our hands and deal with the problems in OUR culture that is causing so much violence from alcohol.

    • Posted by wrong info on

      lobby Hamlet for more funding for RCMP???????? what does hamlet have to do with funding levels of the RCMP???? please explain…..

      FYI. Dept of Justice under the GN are responsible for policing in NU and have an agreement with the RCMP. If you want more officers MAYBE your MLA is the right place to start.

      Automatic default for blame is always Hamlets, LOL……

  15. Posted by it’s not just the RCMP on

    Nurses and social workers in Nunavut have to work from 08:30 am-5 pm PLUS do 24/7 on call after working 08:30-5. I am sure it sucks for them too but it is a part of the job when someone signs up to work in Nunavut and they get paid to work over time. Can a Nurse choose not to answer an after hour emergency at the Health Centre because he or she doesn’t feel like it? They ethically should not so why is it okay for the RCMP to ignore calls from our community for help? RCMP members are not the only persons who need a break and have families. Nurses and social workers need the same too and so do our Inuit community who are dealing with crisis every day. RCMP officers have a legal duty to respond to emergencies. If you are burnt out and tired and do not feel like going out for the call – talk to your boss and let them know but they should not be ignoring calls for help and just not going- someone can end up dead or badly hurt and that is not okay.
    It’s not just the RCMP that has issues. The whole system in Nunavut is messed up and is not working. People are burnt out and tired and the Government needs to pump more money to give Nunavumiut and us Inuit more help and resources.

  16. Posted by Apatoak on

    Lived in Kugluktuk one time. Phoned the RCMP about 2 in the morning because a young woman knocked on my door and sounded distressed. The call went to a YK call centre and I left a message. About a half or more later an RCMP member came. Clearly the young woman had been drinking and was high on some drug. The RCMP came and asked “Would you mind if she slept here (my place) to sleep it off?” I told him that I don’t know her and said no!!! WTF??

  17. Posted by Inuk on

    Here’s my theory about Inuit and booze.

    100 years ago, we Inuit were living completely off the land and were a strong, self sufficient in every way possible race of human.
    We hunted, gathered and survived off this pristine land that we call our home.
    Our genetic make-up is built to survive and thrive off of what our land provides.
    Our land doesn’t have alcohol.
    Alcohol was introduced by the whalers and european people who have had thousands of years for their genetic makeup to adapt to alcohol consumption. If you know anything about history you may know that there was bloodshed and crazy times when alcohol was consumed in the Middle Ages.
    Inuit have only just begun consuming alcohol, so our DNA hasn’t adapted better than someone of European descent.
    In my opinion, we Inuit shouldn’t drink alcohol. A lot of Inuit today drink to a point of blacking out and needing to drink until the last drop has disappeared.
    Then there was residential school and children being ripped away from their parents and the land we lived off of.
    But that’s a whole different chapter in Inuit evolving to who we are today.

    • Posted by Enforced. on

      I like your comment, but what us Inuit people have to also
      realize is that we are not the only people to have suffered
      in the history of the world. Rum, gunpowder, and the lash
      was the way for many people.
      If we do not discipline ourselves we can’t expect anyone
      else to do it for us.

    • Posted by Putuguk on

      If you looked into this more, you would not believe what you wrote. Eastern European countries have the highest rates of alcoholism in the world.

      Belarus has an annual per capita consumption of pure alcohol of 17.3L, which is 3L or so higher than any of the 3 northern territories in Canada including Nunavut. People there are white. Their culture and way of life are different. They have had access to alcohol for thousands of years. They still have alcohol problems on par or worse that what we see up here.

      The things that we do have in common with these countries is that there is plenty to be depressed about, we condone the abuse of alcohol, and have not done anything effective to tackle the problem.

      If we change these things, we will be able to greatly reduce our alcohol problems, just like everywhere else.

  18. Posted by sounds like nunavik on

    All the comments made apply here too in Nunavik. The only difference is our police force is KRPF and they’re all leaving so we’re running out of officers. Us Inuit are brutal when it comes to alcohol consumption. Let’s grow up and try to be civilized now.

    • Posted by You’re correct on

      You are correct, Nunavik has been experiencing as much or worst. Police are not interested in dealing with drunks anymore. All day long, drunks. So degrading. It’s like working in one large correction-lunatic facility. One big outdoor facility. The medicine of choice is alcohol. Doctors, nurses, social workers as well as the police, all from the south, are overwhelmed with drunken behaviour. You see 4 or 5 being hang cuffed for a plane ride to the south. Jails are full. Hospitals in Montreal got several at a time hooked up to ventilations in trauma centres. Kids fostered out. One big mess, and getting worst.

  19. Posted by TV Show on

    Would like to see a Nunavut version of “Cops” where a camera crew follows the RCMP around on their calls. Each week could be a different community.

    Would be a good way for the world to see what an amazing place Nunavut can be, but also the challenges that many down south are ignoring.

  20. Posted by Putuguk on

    I think there are some misconceptions about alcohol and policing in the north. As a result, people think that our culture and race are more important than our basic human nature.

    People put the onus on the community at large to control its members. Like somehow in an equality driven culture it is appropriate and workable for a person with an addiction to heed someone they know saying they must not drink. All they care about is where their next shot of vodka is coming from! That is as impossible here as it is down south.

    People also think that it is possible to “learn” how to drink responsibly. In reality this is impossible for almost everyone, especially for those that use alcohol as a crutch for other problems they have. Societies evolve around alcohol. Individuals do not. We continually confuse the two.

    As it is possible for a society to change its attitude and approach to alcohol, this is what we need to do. Prohibition and controlled access at the community level is mainly ineffective, and creates huge stress in the community. This is probably why Kugluktuk voted to get rid of the committee system in the first place.

    When a person has shown that they cause problems when drunk, they (that specific person) should be banned by the courts for life from drinking. End of story. A list of banned people should be shown on the local cable channel so everyone knows.

    Its really not that drastic. In other countries, a person loses their drivers licence for life for their first DUI. In these countries, different than here, it is actually understood that the risk of a person continuing to abuse alcohol is too great for the rest of society.

    Focus on the people that have problems with alcohol before they make their problems into problems for others.

  21. Posted by Abstaining Inuk on

    Alcohol is clearly the problem. I understand if it was harm to self or others, then it needs to be addressed immediately. Alcohol ruins families, career, friends, credibility and sense of self. Finding the root of the alcoholic problems is a step towards acknowledging that ALCOHOL & PROBLEM do not go well together.

    RCMP need to debrief, rest and recharge, as well as, SSW, nursing and people who attend to ‘substance induced emergencies/incidences. You’re going to burn out your service people if alcohol continues to be priority over everything else that is most important – family and community.

  22. Posted by hunter3 on

    I lived in Nunavut for 8 years and saw firsthand how busy the chronically-understaffed RCMP is 24/7. They aren’t ignoring your calls, they simply can’t answer all of them in the short time frame they come in. You can bet they are prioritizing the calls based on the seriousness nature of the call. The community voted to drop the alcohol ban, now you get to deal with the consequences. And really – if my brother or sister was drunk and beating on someone, I wouldn’t call the cops. I’d deal with it and drag them out the house myself. The RCMP aren’t babysitters and too many times they get called to deal with trivial issues that should be handled by the families.

  23. Posted by Marrianne on

    The territory of Nunavut is magnificent, it is breath-taking in many ways. I was lucky to have called a few places home while there. The people were kind of considerate, but when alcohol was present they changed….dramatically.
    As a social worker, what i saw was when the plane came in, people would run and hide in their homes, away from the alcohol. The ones who didn’t hide, were the ones who were generally abusing alcohol.
    To see such a beautiful landscape change so much broke my heart repeatedly. As a person who readily admitted to love the people’s the changes were enough to have me leave the territory.
    I can only hope people realize how much it is costing them and their culture and stop.

    • Posted by F lamy on

      Is drinking the problem, or a bad solution to something else?

      To me one problem is that many youths do not want to be in the North. They resent being stuck there. But they can’t leave, for a number of reason (family, friends, traditions, guilt, etc.). Drug and alcohol are then seen as a kind of escape. When that fails, then they pull the plug.

      The north is beautiful. However I would not live there full time.

      How about having an Inuit community down south, so that those that want to escape the long and bleak Arctic winter could do so?

      Just saying that alcohol is terrible is not an answer to anything.

      • Posted by Me and my friends. on

        A very good idea for people willing to do this and accept that
        they are responsible for their own destiny and actions.
        Life is what you make it.
        Take care !

  24. Posted by Chesley on

    The responses submitted on the piece to NN indicates that there is a solid interest in dealing with the problem, that does help/move in making a positive difference and change.

    • Posted by Agree on

      I agree Chelsey. The only thing is, I’m convinced that it’s all or nothing. We can either have it the way it is or be totally dry; which off course don’t mean it will be totally dry, there’s always a way to get it. But all in all, we must tackle the problem, for a solution, only by having the upmost in an attempt to eliminate alcohol from the community. We can try all we like to make learning a possibility, but that will never be so, people can’t learn to control alcohol, in a free for all, yet unhealthy environment. The community will suffer tremendous lost of limb and life as a down payment on something that will never happen. This learn to handle, is wrong, it must be a genetic evolutionary process that will take many many eons. In the mean time , doing what’s right is to have alcohol eliminated from Inuit life in the communities. I see inuit having alcohol, in a more controlled southern environment, but not in the community, with others that are not handling it well as a whole.

  25. Posted by Harry on

    This town has too many issues and it’s time to ban alcohol until the community can work to get programs mental healthcare in place and make positive changes that is badly needed. Using alcohol to try and make things better or to escape does not work.
    Stop getting post drunk, find help, deal with whatever that needs to be dealt with. Step up and find a way instead of trying to drink your problems away. Find a healthier and better way.

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