Quebec’s police watchdog investigates death in Inukjuak jail cell

Unidentified individual had been arrested by police for being intoxicated

An investigation is underway after a person died in an Inukjuak jail cell last week. (File photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Quebec’s police watchdog says it is investigating the death of a detainee in an Inukjuak jail cell last week.

The incident occurred in the Hudson coast Nunavik community on May 25.

The Bureau of Independent Investigations, which probes police incidents involving serious injuries or death, provided a brief timeline of what happened that day.

At around 7 p.m., police responded to a complaint of someone who was intoxicated and knocking on the door of a residence.

A half-hour later, the person was arrested for public intoxication and taken to the Nunavik police station in Inukjuak. At around 10 p.m., the person was found by a cellmate and guard lying down unconscious.

Police attempted to resuscitate the individual, who was brought to the local health centre and pronounced dead at around 10:40 p.m.

The bureau did not reveal the person’s name, age or gender. An investigator with the bureau said in a voicemail that its policy is to not identify individuals during ongoing investigations.

The next day, on May 26, the bureau announced it was investigating and that it was requesting the support of Montreal police to aid in the investigation.

This is the third reported incident in just under two years in which an intoxicated person has died while in Nunavik police custody.

In separate incidents last year, a woman from Akulivik and a woman from Puvirnituq were taken into custody and later found dead in their jail cells.

In both cases, the bureau investigated but Quebec’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions office deemed there was no wrongdoing on the part of police and no charges were laid.

In April, when asked about incidents in which intoxicated people died in police custody, Nunavik deputy police Chief Jean-Francois Morin said that with the level of substance use in Nunavik communities, people sometimes die of overconsumption in their homes. However, he said, it’s rare for it to happen at the police station.

Nunavik Police Services Chief Jean-Pierre Larose also spoke out on the matter, calling for more mobile crisis intervention services in communities.

The Bureau of Independent Investigations has also opened two other investigations this year involving people who were injured during interactions with police.

On April 12, a suspect in Kuujjuaraapik was taken into custody for a suspected breach of conditions. While in jail, the person began convulsing and was taken to hospital in serious condition.

On May 12, a report of an intoxicated person in Inukjuak led to an armed standoff in which police shot the suspect. The person was taken to the health centre where their condition stabilized.

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by People are desensitized on

    Some of us always in shock with the news of intoxication outcomes in Nunavik, but more and more many people are being desensitized to it all. It’s the same story over and over. No learning curve whatsoever. It’s an opportunity missed every time by the leaders of the community to highlight and emphasize the inevitable outcomes of drinking and drugs. But no, it’s just forgettable in a few days , and it continues again and again. Nunavik society appears to be marked and predictable in the negative relationship with substance abuse, but nothing is acknowledged, discussed or remedied to no extent. Until the next victim, coming soon, it’s ridiculously predictable. Even treatment programs spend valuable resources and time addressing superficial aspects, while people are suffering and dying off early.

    • Posted by Inuk from Nunavik on

      In the USA , you have people dying regularly from mass shootings , in Nunavik , you have people dying regularly from alchohol related deaths. It happens so offten , that i have become desensitized.

  2. Posted by Public intoxication, well well. on

    How come when I go out for a drive I see half dozen drunks or more going to and from here and there. And yet the police only once in awhile arrest someone for being drunk in public. In kuujjuaq you can’t go anywhere without encountering a drunk. That includes on the roads, in the stores, in many public,places, even at the front of the hospital, no, not just that, I’ve seem them even near the police station. What does it take to keep drunks off the roads of a little town, road wise, like kuujjuaq. And any other community in Nunavik????? Somebody needs to wake up. We have a problem with which parts of the wheel of problems here ? Is it that it’s a failure in all areas of responsibility?

  3. Posted by former inuk krpk guard on

    i am a former inuk krpf guard.. and i did my job of checking on inmate(s) every 15 minutes and reporting my inmates checks on my paper work. because i did my 15 minute checks i saved an inmated once from dying. white man guards are not doing their job not checking on inmate every 15 minutes. door tray should be opened to see if intoxicated person is breathing and sleeping. if police are investigating this death they should be investigating krpf white guards for not checking on inmate every 15 minutes because thats what we did, checking on inmate every 15 minutes. it doesnt matter wether if inmate is suicidal or not..check on inmate every 15 minutes.

    • Posted by Reality on

      Congrats Nunatsiaq News for allowing a racist comment through.

      • Posted by Nunavik Resident on

        I think when police are arresting intoxicated people, they have to check the detainee if she/he has any medical or health problems in order to be aware of their well-being. A lot of people with health problems do drink alcohol. I think it was a flaw that someone died in a cell all because they didn’t check if that person had any health problems. And I agree with Inuk krpk guard that every guard at police stations, whether they are white, black, Inuk, must check every 15 or less to check if the detainees are okay.


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