The front page of Nunatsiaq News from April 24, 2009. (File photo)

Yesterday’s News: A brutal sexual assault that shook Pangnirtung

Nunatsiaq News looks back on its old front pages as the paper celebrates 50 years of covering the North

By Nunatsiaq News

It was a mixed bag of news on the front page of Nunatsiaq News back on April 24, 2009 — a church celebration, a little acrobatic dancing, good news on the sealift and an assault so vicious the judge was lost for words.

Nunatsiaq News is looking back through some old front pages as the paper celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, after starting out as a community newsletter called Inukshuk in 1973.

In Kimmirut 14 years ago, they were celebrating a century of service at St. Paul’s Church which, as the article notes, was just the second Anglican mission to be established on Baffin Island.

That “rough little building” constructed across the channel from the Hudson Bay Co. post would be replaced with a new structure in 1948, and today it continues to offer morning and evening services in the community of about 425, according to its website.

Also back in April 2009, photographer Chris Windeyer caught a cool shot of Oolootie Leona Mingeriak, one of the Baffin Breakers dance crew from Clyde River, performing during the opening ceremonies for Toonik Tyme.

But the theme of celebration suggested by the main story and headline was in sharp contrast to the horrific sexual assault referred to in the headline at the bottom of the page.

A man broke into a stranger’s home in the middle of the night, sexually assaulted her and beat her with a pipe, crowbar or hammer, a doctor told police.

Nearly a month passed between the attack in June 2005 and when police finally arrested a suspect, and the incident cast a pall over the community.

After the arrest, then-mayor Jack Maniapik said residents were finally “going to have a good night’s sleep, that’s for sure.”

“I don’t know if it’ll ever go back to normal again. We’re definitely wounded by the incident,” the mayor said.

The victim suffered a badly fractured skull and brain damage, a broken jaw, numerous cuts and bruises and permanent disabilities including a speech impediment, numbness on one side of her body, cognitive problems and psychological trauma.

The attacker was sentenced in April 2009 to 18 years in prison. Of the victim, the judge said “it’s a day-to-day struggle for the complainant to try to carry on her life as normal.”

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by Cultural diversity on

    I think in this case “stranger” is a euphemism for “non-inuit outsider”. I remember this case, it was a social work student staying alone in a house. The young woman was lucky to survive, having been beaten so badly that she was left for dead by her assailant, but was left handicapped for life.

    Thank-you, Nunatsiaq, for being brave enough to remind people about this horrific assault and attempted murder. People need to be aware of crimes like this, and not have them be swept under the rug.

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    • Posted by Thinking of the survivor on

      I remember this case too, it was shocking and sad. The person should never be released back to the community or at all, I don’t think he’d be welcomed.

      There is an underbelly of these types of crimes to this day in Nunavut, needs to be more heard, Nunatsiaq. Need to be able to speak about it to find ways to stop and denormalized violent crimes. Inuukuluii, we need to call each other out so the young ones know this isn’t okay.

      Hope the survivor of this case is doing well. ❤️

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      • Posted by CB on

        The attacker died in federal penitentiary some time ago. He won’t be back. May God have mercy on his evil soul.

  2. Posted by Chimps on

    Dear heavens, why on earth would you choose this to celebrate 50 years? The victim, the family of the victim likely didn’t wake up and expect to relive that experience again.

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