Quebec coroner investigating highway deaths of Nunavik women

Mary-Jane Tulugak and Nellie Niviaxie were struck by vehicles near Montreal last week

Quebec’s coroner’s office is looking into the deaths of two Nunavik women on Montreal highways last week. The women were struck by vehicles in separate incidents near Ullivik, where they were living at the time. (Photo courtesy of Inuulitsivik Health Centre)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Quebec’s coroner’s office is investigating the deaths last week of two Nunavik women who were struck by vehicles on highways near Montreal.

According to a news release written in French, coroner Éric Lépine, who co-chairs a committee for the coroner’s office that focuses on deaths of Indigenous people, is taking on both files.

“At the end of each investigation, the coroner writes a detailed report in which he sets out the causes and circumstances that led to the death,” the news release says.

“If he deems it appropriate, he can also make recommendations aimed at avoiding other deaths in similar circumstances.”

Early on Aug. 19, Mary-Jane Tulugak, 22, of Puvirnituq, was struck by a vehicle on Hwy. 520.

According to Sgt. Stéphane Tremblay, a spokesperson for the Quebec provincial police, Tulugak was in a wheelchair at the time of the incident. She was taken to hospital and later died.

Less than 24 hours later, 26-year-old Nellie Niviaxie from Umiujaq was struck by multiple vehicles on Hwy. 20 and pronounced dead at the scene.

Tremblay said charges are not expected to be laid in either case.

The separate incidents were unrelated, Tremblay said, but both women were living at the Ullivik lodging facility in Dorval, Que., which houses approximately 200 Nunavimmiut who are seeking medical care in the south.

Ullivik is offering on-site support to those who need it.

“Everyone is affected. Family members, of course, as well as community members and staff members,” said Kathleen Poulin, a spokesperson for the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, in a Monday email to Nunatsiaq News. “There is psychological support offered to everyone who needs it.”

Ullivik residents are free to leave and come back to the building as they please.

Road-related incidents are “uncommon,” Poulin wrote. She said there have been six incidents since Ullivik opened in 2016.

Nunatsiaq News contacted the Nunavik health board for clarification on what those incidents involved. In response, spokesperson Jenny Simpraseuth wrote there is no “specific record” of road incidents.


Share This Story

(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by DUMBFOUNDED!! on

    “If he deems it appropriate, he can also make recommendations aimed at avoiding other deaths in similar circumstances.” Follow the signed waiver that each Inuit signs before receiving a room at Ullivik or the Quality Hotel. Do not enter the Ullivik and or Quality Hotel while intoxicated. Do not bring illegal drugs and alcohol inside these buildings while being a patient and or escort. Each person sent from Nunavik is either a patient and or escort to seek professional medical treatment and not a time to spend tax paying money on a “free trip” and Free lodging to get wasted intoxicated. Not all Inuit but most. Stop believing you are all special.

    • Posted by Get real on

      Your stereotype-filled nonsensical comment is flawed and just plain wrong.
      “Most” Inuit— totally totally wrong. Intoxication of an individual does not justify their death, nor should it be used as an excuse for a system that neglects people to death. Inuit are Quebec citizens, and the provincial government ignores their needs and barely gives the money needed for a bare minimum to have dignified health care.

      • Posted by Disagree me on

        Off course not Inuit. But ullvik has too many Inuit from Nunavik abusing the trip south to medical, getting into alcohol and drugs and not respecting their appointments. You say intoxication doesn’t justify death, that maybe true, but intoxication plus going across a big highway at night, in a wheel sure makes death very possible, Murray’s Law, can tell you it’s very possible. Plus it’s justifies keeping a security fence around ullvik, otherwise your justification theory lacks common sense to say the least. The government may have not given to the needs of people, does that justify getting drunk and dying , just to pair your justification point ?

  2. Posted by Stephen Grasser on

    This is just my opinion, but I think the inquiry should look at the calibre of the escorts being sent to accompany some patients. If those escorts are young and have had little to no experience in dealing with southern life (including those pedestrian safety rules which have been drilled into southerners’ heads since kindergarten). The roads around Dorval Circle are complicated, and accidents are sure to happen to those not used to them especially if their capacities are diminished by alcohol, etc.

    I think Ullivik should revisit their escort policy to make sure that those assistants have the capacity to deal with the south. Picking very young people with no southern experience is just plain stupid.

    Maybe hiring responsible southern Inuit would be a better approach. What is paid out to them would be more than covered by the foregone cost of airfare for bringing inexperienced and naive escorts from Nunavik.

  3. Posted by Call it patient support worker on

    Here’s for thinking out loud. Make it a job. Called it patient support worker. Yes have a organized job role whereby the old escort system would not completely be redundant but keep to a minimum with responsible family members. The new system would hire individuals not having addiction issues on their plate, and will guide the patient from start to finish with appointments and care in Montreal. Have the training provided by nursing services and security services, KI could probably get involve with some type of program specifically for that Nunavik patients


Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *