Ottawa police have identified Savanna Pikuyak, of Sanirajak, as the victim in a weekend homicide. (Photo courtesy of Sheba Pikuyak)

Nunavut mom mourns slain daughter she says was ‘truly exceptional’

Suspect arrested in killing of Savanna Pikuyak, who left Sanirajak last week to study in Ottawa

By Meral Jamal

A bouquet of flowers sits on a utility box outside a townhome in Ottawa’s Nepean neighbourhood Tuesday. The home is where Ottawa police found the body of 22-year-old Savanna Pikayuk on Sunday morning. (Photo by Corey Larocque)

Just about a week ago, 22-year-old Savanna Pikuyak left Nunavut and travelled more than 2,500 kilometres to attend Algonquin College in Ottawa.

But her dream of becoming a nurse quickly took a tragic turn.

On Monday, Ottawa police identified Pikuyak, from Sanirajak, as the victim in a homicide and say a 33-year-old suspect is in custody.

In a news release, Ottawa Police Service said that on Sunday officers were called to an address on Woodvale Green, about two kilometres south of the college, and discovered Pikuyak’s body there.

Nikolas Ibey, 33, was charged with second-degree murder. He appeared in court Monday. Police did not reveal the cause of death.

On Tuesday, Pikuyak’s mother, Sheba Pikuyak, remembered her daughter as someone who was “smart, bright” and “had a heart of gold” combined with a biting sense of humour.

“She cared a lot about her family,” Sheba Pikuyak, who lives in Sanirajak, told Nunatsiaq News via Facebook. “She loved her twin nephews, Jarell and Gianni, eight-years old and Alexis, who will turn four. They were crazy about her Aja-aunt.”

She said that as a young Inuk, Pikuyak was active and engaged in educational programs through initiatives such as Students on Ice, Northern Youth Abroad and Nunavut Sivuniksavut in Ottawa before deciding to attend the nursing program at Algonquin College this semester.

Her mother called her extremely talented, noting Pikuyak taught herself to knit, crochet and bead, among other arts and crafts she was fond of.

From left: Savanna Pikuyak, her youngest brother Dawson Pikuyak, her mother Sheba Pikuyak and sister Geneva Pikuyak. (Photo courtesy of Sheba Pikuyak)

“She was also such a good cook and had a vast knowledge of everything in general,” Sheba Pikuyak said. “She loved replying sarcastically, as she loved making people smile and laugh.

“She was truly exceptional.”

She said Pikuyak gave birth to a boy in Dawson Creek, B.C. earlier this year and that the child, was adopted by Leesa Leroy, a former teacher in Sanirajak.

In an interview via Facebook, Leroy, who said she was with Pikuyak at the hospital when the baby was born, said Pikuyak “really was a truly special and unique person.”

“Her death has left a hole in so many people’s hearts,” she told Nunatsiaq News.

Leroy said her friend’s killer “has ruined so many people’s lives.”

“I think it’s important to share Savanna’s story … It’s impossible to wrap my head around how this could have happened to Savanna.”

Pikuyak is survived by her mother and father, David Angu Akearok, stepbrothers Darryl and Jonah, her youngest brother Dawson, and her sister Geneva, who Sheba Pikuyak said was Savanna’s best friend.

Ottawa police are asking anyone with information about Savanna Pikuyak’s death to contact homicide investigators at 613-236-1222, ext. 5493.

Tips can be provided anonymously by contacting Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-222-8477 or online at

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Ammie H. Kipsigak on

    I am so sorry….RIP Savanna Pikuyak….

  2. Posted by Nunavut Dad on

    Such a waste of life, and so much human potential… completely devastating

  3. Posted by Aqua on

    This is a tragedy beyond words. The family will never recover from the loss of this wonderful young woman, just beginning to go out in the world and start following her dreams. What a loss for the world to lose Savanna’s light.

  4. Posted by Jill on

    So incredibly sad. My heart goes out to her family, friends and community. It takes so much courage to leave home to pursue your goals and dreams, it is devastating that she did not get to live a full and rich life.

  5. Posted by Maureen on

    I’m very sorry for the family, Inuit and greater community’s loss of a beautfiul person trying to better herself. The photo is heartbreakingly beautiful and I thought it was a painting at first.

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