Sexual assault on elder spurs Nunavik mayors to action
“It’s my responsibility to make sure my community is a safe and a solid place”
Two Nunavik mayors are asking the Quebec justice system to make sure those accused or found guilty of serious offenses stay in jail.
That was the message which Juusipi Annahatak, the mayor of Kangirsuk, and Andy Moorhouse, the mayor of Inukjuak, delivered last week to Suzanne Ricard, the Crown Prosecutor in Kuujjuaq.
Annahatak arrived back home following the Kativik Regional Government’s regional council meeting to learn that Aloupa Eetook, 29, of Kangirsuk had been arrested for sexual assault on Sept. 18.
Annahatak wrote a carefully phrased letter to Ricard, urging the court to make sure Etook, who had been charged in connection with a sexual assault on an elder from his community, would “be properly prosecuted.”
Eetook was seeking release from remand to resume his studies at the Pigiursavik vocational centre in Inukjuak.
“A choice for him to continue his plans for school… shouldn’t even be an issue,” Annahatak wrote on behalf of the community of Kangirsuk and its councilors.
“We’re not the ones who are supposed to make the decisions, but I wrote a letter to the prosecutor to take this charge seriously. It was a very serious crime,” Annahatak said later in an interview from Kangirsuk.
But Annahatak doesn’t think municipalities should have to influence the justice system.
“Why me? Why us? Why should we be the ones? I know the police make recommendations. The police should be recognized. The court should follow the recommendations. The court should handle cases according to how serious the crime is. When they don’t, it doesn’t look good for justice in Nunavik.”
Andy Moorhouse, the mayor of Inukjuak, wrote a letter to the Crown about the same case, saying Inukjuak was not ready to receive a man accused of such a serious crime: “I will not accept another person who will be of concern to me, nor to the police… and to our community also.”
“I didn’t want my population to be at risk further. I couldn’t accept him in my community,” Moorhouse said in an interview from Inukjuak.
Moorhouse said he goes to court regularly when it meets in Inukjuak to observe, but he doesn’t feel at ease with making formal recommendations. He’s concerned the region’s mayors are being forced to get involved “when the facts already show that it is a serious crime and a serious issue.”
“We have to get involved, but it shouldn’t be the case. It’s not in my duties to do this. It’s my responsibility to make sure my community is a safe and a solid place. We shouldn’t have to say something or write a letter, but I had to. Many times, I have had to stop any further danger to the community,” Moorhouse said.
Moorhouse said those accused of serious offenses and found guilty of serious offenses shouldn’t be given a chance to re-offend, and he’s calling for the same level of protection that he believes is provided elsewhere in Quebec.
“We’re not as different as Montreal in these cases. It’s the same scenario here,” Moorhouse said.
Eetok’s request for bail was denied, and police said he remains in detention.