Overcrowded cells led to ‘grossly inadequate’ conditions at Kinngait jail: report

RCMP Civilian Review and Complaints Commission investigation follows violent arrest of man in June 2020

Nunavut RCMP Chief Supt. Andrew Blackadar says the Kinngait RCMP detachment will double the number of cells to eight following recommendations made by a Civilian Review and Complaints Commission report into the violent arrest of a man in June 2020. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Madalyn Howitt

A new RCMP watchdog report says Kinngait officers provided “grossly inadequate” services after a violent arrest three years ago that led to an inmate waiting 16 hours to receive medical treatment.

This screenshot from a video posted by a Kinngait resident on Facebook shows the moment a man is knocked to the ground with the open door of an RCMP truck in 2020. The Ottawa Police Service’s investigation into the incident concluded the contact was unintentional and that the arrest was lawful. (Screenshot from Facebook)

A video of the June 1, 2020, incident shows a man being knocked down by the door of an RCMP vehicle during an arrest.

Ottawa police concluded in December 2020 that the arrest was lawful. But the RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission announced its own investigation into the incident in August 2020.

Three years later, that report finds the 22-year-old man, identified only as A.B., wasn’t taken to a health centre for 16 hours.

A man who assaulted him while he was in cells, identified as J.J., had been pepper-sprayed prior to being brought to the detachment. There was no running water in the cell’s sink, so the man used toilet water to wash out his eyes.

These are just some of the 36 of the report’s findings into the incident, including that under-resourcing at the detachment was a factor in “every aspect” of what happened to the man that night, raising concerns “about possible systemic discrimination.”

Five Kinngait RCMP officers fielded 37 calls on June 1, 2020.

The detachment has four cells, but 15 people were detained. This led to multiple people being held in one cell, others being held in an interview room and one person placed in the back of an RCMP vehicle. 

Overworked staff, a lack of cells, equipment and insufficient training for the detachment guard all contributed to A.B. being placed in a dangerous situation that resulted in him being assaulted and contributed to a failure to pass on critical information about the medical attention he needed, the report concluded. 

“While there were some failures by individual RCMP members, as well as some deficiencies in training, supervision, and compliance with policies, the commission observed that, for the most part, the RCMP members made considerable efforts to manage a nearly impossible workload within constraints that created unsafe situations,” the report states.

The commission offered 20 recommendations in its report. 

“We’re certainly not shocked by some of the findings,” said Nunavut RCMP Chief Supt. Andrew Blackadar, speaking to Nunatsiaq News on Thursday. 

The commission released an interim report last year, so the RCMP “had a good idea what was coming” and began implementing most of the recommendations, Blackadar said.

That includes building a new detachment that will include eight cells, doubling the current facility’s capacity. The project is in the design phase and community consultations will take place this winter, Blackadar said. 

The detachment now has an authorized establishment of seven police officers, up from five in 2020. 

Blackadar said other “deficiencies” with the detachment that night have been remedied. The detachment now has a decontamination station available and running water in the cell that previously had a broken sink, he said. 

“The North is an interesting place to police, because we don’t have the luxury of having access to trades people as quickly as we do in the south or even tools to repair things,” he said, adding that it is often officers themselves who are cleaning and repairing the detachment. 

Blackadar said the RCMP has also implemented new training for police officers on how to treat detainees who have been pepper-sprayed, “specifically our police officers that were involved in the incident back in June 2020.”

“We’ve given operational guidance and we’ve updated the policy with respect to checking on prisoners,” he said, including the importance of treating inmates who have been pepper sprayed.

Blackadar said the Nunavut RCMP are also looking filling positions for an Indigenous policing program in the coming years.

“I think we really have to really look at different ways of approaching communities and we can’t always criminalize substance abuse, we can’t criminalize mental health issues. Not everybody has to go to jail,” Blackadar said.

“I think we have to look at alternative ways of working with the community and other service providers to find other ways to help communities to get better in the long run.”

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(27) Comments:

  1. Posted by Name withheld on

    Like any other department, you have some that are great and wants to make a difference where they work and those who basically want nothing to do with anyone.

    Majority of the members that arrive to Nunavut don’t have a clue how to tighten a shower head, now don’t get me wrong. They come from a city where they are use to calling that guy . ?.

    In Nunavut you basically have to wait for approval to request a work order to be looked at as you might go over your budget or you basically don’t have the authority to request it.

    A little advice is don’t be afraid to do or try fixing things on your own as you can wait days, weeks or months for simple things to be fixed in Nunavut .

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  2. Posted by Cape Fear on

    Dorset is the perfect example of a failed community. Too much money going around in that town from expensive artworks. MOre money more problems. Extreme vandalism, violence and nobody wants to work an honest job there.

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    • Posted by Unfortunately on

      I wish I didn’t have to agree with this statement but it’s true. Obviously, it doesn’t take away from the folks who are well and are positive in that town.

      But, the GN and the community cannot ignore the regular violence, it’ll be a continued cycled of trauma that needs to stop. Could it happen? If community members are incarcerated less then this wouldn’t be an issue. The community needs to help too so their own people will get better ❤️‍? that many calls for a small place is insane. Violence is not okay.

      Aakulukua, hope y’all get better is the best I can say.

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    • Posted by Art money isn’t causing the problems… on

      It’s pretty strange to act as if the problems in the community are because they make too much money from artwork, I don’t think that’s really the source of the problem.
      .
      I think it’s a testament to how good the art is, and it’s likely the case that if there were less problems and more stability in town, people would likely make even more from artwork…
      .
      For instance, was the notorious teacher Ed Horne molesting a large percentage of Cape Dorset children because he made too much money off of art and that caused problems in town – or were people like him causing problems that have rippled out into the town to lead to more problems and an inability for a lot of people to have to rely on artwork for a living rather than have the ability to work an office job?
      .
      When you look at a lot of the history of what has gone on in Kinngait, I don’t think it’s a surprise to see why many things are the way they are now.
      .
      Either way, I don’t think selling a few dancing bears and prints is the reason there’s vandalism and violence.
      .
      I think Kinngait has a lot going for it though. Many people there are incredibly nice despite tough circumstances.

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  3. Posted by Nope on

    Not having access to a trades person is not an excuse. Repairs needed are documented and run up the chain until a “PO” gets issued. If there are delays in repairs getting done then that’s on the bureaucracy. But it’s also on the contractors to provide a responsible price and not to hose the government….. long story short people are lazy and greedy

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  4. Posted by Art Thompson on

    The report said the RCMP recieved 37 calls on the night in question. what a madhouse.

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    • Posted by Northerner on

      I m sure EVERY JAIL in Nunavik and Nunavut could do with more cells , do to the growth in clientel.

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    • Posted by 867 on

      Just your average Tuesday in Kinngait

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    • Posted by hunter3 on

      Yup. We call Cape Dorset the “wild west” of Nunavut. They need a larger detachment, more cells, and a much larger police force. And more access to counseling.

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  5. Posted by Blank on

    The court if it were doing its job would tell the police that they need to watch for those conditions, to not pile prisoners upon prisoners where there is inadequate room to do so. At the administrative level too need to do their job, to work on solutions.

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    • Posted by No on

      No, maybe citizens committing less crime wouldn’t create more people in jail. Stop the violence and breaking the law would help because, then people wouldn’t end up in jail in the first place.

      Getting arrested and going through the court is not a normal thing most folks do, let’s denormalize this.

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  6. Posted by Northener on

    Pretty sad when someone from outside the community has to tell you to add more cells. You would think those idiots who see it first hand could figure it out on there own.

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    • Posted by 867 on

      With your rationale, those “idiots” who see the overcrowding issues in nunavut houses first hand should just build more houses. Simple as that ey?

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      • Posted by Northerner on

        If , i ever win one those 70 mil Lotto 6/49 , i will built a nice 20 cell jail in KINGGAIT.

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  7. Posted by Tulugaq on

    It is the colonial government that decided to settle Inuit in communities to better control them and to impose the colonial justice system with the police and the courts. One would expect that these governments would do their job and provide decent police and court services but that is a miserable failure, in particular for the police that are underfunded, understaffed and imposed a one size fits all way of policing like the rest of Canada.

    This flies in the face of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and is a situation that is unacceptable in a developed country. Ottawa wanted to take over policing and justice, now it’s time to deliver decent services or get out of Nunavut and let the Inuit manage their own territory.

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    • Posted by Joanasie on

      “Let the Inuit manage their own territory” If this was the case then there won’t be a need for police. People here can even manage their own household. Blaming colonialism in just a dumb excuse for justifying people making dumb decisions, and then crying victim when they are arrested. People in Kinngait need to wake up and start taking ownership of their community. It’s crazy how a community of what 1500 people need soo many police and a large police station. Look at Arviat (3000 people) and Baker Lake (2000 people), small police station with few police officers. Maybe Kinngait can learn from those communities.

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    • Posted by Let’s do it on

      I agree, Canada should withdraw from Nunavut and let Inuit run everything including justice and policing themselves. It would be an extraordinarily instructive experience for people like yourself.

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    • Posted by Exasperation on

      So reject the “colonialism”, go back to living in tents and igloos on the land if you are still crabby about this fictional “forced settlement”, and go back to solving disputes through family status, brute force, manipulation and deceit, and the occasional murder of troublemakers (or by troublemakers). Was that so much better? Do you think the injustice of the old system might be part of why people prefer “colonialism”, (also known as modernity), despite its flaws?

      It’s funny how people blame “colonialism”. Living a dependent life on endless government benefits, infused with rampant addiction and violence, is not the way those you derisively label “colonials” live. It’s very much a northern phenomenon. But yeah, turning away from the dependency on benefits, alcohol and drugs is definitely the way to go, so if pretending that is “colonialism” helps you do that, go for it.

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    • Posted by 180 on

      Tulugaq: Get out of Nunavut and let the Inuit manage their own territory??

      Everyone would all be back in igloos in a few months, you would have no one to repair or build new houses, no healthcare, things would burn down or get torn down. All the windows would be broke out of everything and chaos would ensue. What about the free hand outs? It would be like an episode of the walking dead, zombies roaming around outta their minds, oh wait, I guess its like that now hahaaha

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  8. Posted by Candy Mountains on

    In The Big Rock Candy Mountains
    The jails are made of tin
    And you can walk right out again
    As soon as you are in
    There ain’t no short-handle shovels
    No axes, saws or picks
    I’m a-goin’ to stay where you sleep all day
    Where they hung the jerk that invented work
    In The Big Rock Candy Mountains
    “I’ll see you all this comin’ fall
    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

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  9. Posted by Hunter on

    You look at communities like Kinngait, Igloolik, Sanikiluaq where school teachers with the likes of Ed Horne (was in both Sanikiluaq and Kinggait), Johnny Meeko, or priest like Eric Dejaeger, left a trail of anger, embarassment, shame, trauma, violence that we are still seeing play out today in those communities.

    Sad really, I know my fellow Inuit will not find healing at the bottom of the bottle, they only going to find more problems but they do not know how to healthily cope with their feelings other than turning to alcohol and drugs and blowing up.

    I pray one day my fellow Inuit can turn the page and get tehir life back together.

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    • Posted by Name Withheld on

      Inuit communities lack mental health workers that are fluent in Inuktut. Even if you have Inuit that are certified mental health workers, then you have to worry about if they are related to the person or who is mentioned or to the MHW.

      Nunavut is a large territory but becomes small as everyone is related to everyone.

      Also, how you asked a question to a person whose 2nd language is English, can easily be mistaken for another, it depends what tone you use. As a lot of Inuit use facial expression and tones when speaking. It’s not the same in English. <-This is for smaller communities.

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      • Posted by Um on

        I don’t believe there is many Inuit who work in healthcare because, if there was they would be addressing and helping Inuit in need right now. Also it’s up to us Inuit to get the education and training to work in healthcare, it’s paid for too.

        there are so many people who also have English as a second language that are in similar situations as us but, still go through the healthcare system. I think it’s more important then ever to ensure Inuit keep Inuktitut but learn English too since it’s used everywhere in the territory. People are bilingual in other places in the world and are successful, we Inuit can do that too.

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        • Posted by James on

          Hold up wait a minute, there were Inuit nurses and midwives once upon a time in Nunavut.

          From my understanding it was all great untill the honeymoon ended and they were treated like garbage by sr management in the health department.

          That being. Said working for a government with no vision for the future is like being up a freak without a paddle

          I would would imagine no nurse survives working for the GN longer than 5 years as indeterminate.

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  10. Posted by Tooma on

    Activities like that wouldn’t trust nunavutmmiut.

  11. Posted by Inung on

    Start thinking having your own security built by Inuit. Government is involved in housing, social assistance, gn jobs. Be strong be Inuit good hunters, be a man. Don’t be weak.

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  12. Posted by Anaanamous on

    What is NTI up to all these years? They should run programs for the residential school survivors. Help them heal. It will trickle down in generations to come.
    Get off your high horse Alluki and resign. Make room for someone who can run an org better than you can. Just sitting there and making money. Attack those singled out ppl like the priest that can’t be extradited to Canada. Deal with your inuks and you’ll see Nunavut will become a better place. Try it. Instead doing all these stupid surveys or Frkn getting southerners to test this and that.

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