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Coroner’s inquest rules Sanirajak police shooting a homicide

A six-person jury has ruled the death of Jeremy Nuvviaq a homicide. 

This was the last step in a coroner’s inquest that began in Sanirajak, Nunavut, on Monday. 

Nuvviaq was 39 when he died after being shot by an RCMP officer outside his home in May of 2017. Shortly before he died he posted a Facebook live video where he talked about suicide and wanting to die at the hands of police. 

A former coworker who saw the video called police to warn them Nuvviaq was holding a toy gun. He was shot after threatening police officers with a pellet gun that officers believed could kill them. 

The jury’s determination follows a similar ruling last fall after an inquest into the 2016 police shooting of Charles Qirngnirq, who was 21 when he was killed by police in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut. While his sister told CBC News she was relieved by the verdict, there are no other consequences. 

The jury’s ruling does not determine guilt or place blame. The ruling of homicide in a coroner’s inquest means the person died at the hands of someone else. 

An investigation from the Ottawa police cleared Const. Stephen Currie of criminal wrongdoing in the shooting of Nuvviaq. 

coroners inquest rules sanirajak police shooting a homicide
A street scene in Sanirajak, Nunavut, in March of 2022. (Jackie MacKay/CBC)

The jury made 17 recommendations on how to prevent similar kinds of deaths. 

Many of the recommendations have to do with officers taking part in regular suicide and mental health training, as well as running through simulated scenarios of people wanting to die by police. 

Other recommendations to Government of Nunavut departments include being more transparent to clients about efforts and challenges in delivering housing, as well as providing more specific information about how to obtain suitable housing through available programs. 

“Housing… is definitely one of the underlying causes of people who attempt to take their life,” Victoria Madsen, assistant deputy minister of mental health and addictions for the Government of Nunavut, told the inquest earlier this week. 

Before he died, Nuvviaq had gone to see his local mental health worker for a letter to try and obtain better housing. At the time, nine people were living in his and his partner’s two-bedroom house. 

These recommendations are not binding to the agencies they are directed to. 

Family member forgives

Just before the jury deliberated, Loreen Anguratsiaq, a relative of Nuvviaq, gave a statement on behalf of the family. 

“I forgive everyone,” Anguratsiaq said, in Inuktitut. 

She said the officer who shot Nuvviaq was defending himself and Nuvviaq wasn’t cooperating. 

“I hope the cop will forgive himself for what he has done because this was Jeremy’s wish,” said Anguratsiaq. 

Anguratsiaq said she hopes her family will as well. 

“I hope my relatives will let go of this so we have a better future,” said Anguratsiaq. 

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