Nunavut municipalities say RCMP wearing body cameras will help with trust issues after Kinngait incident

‘There’s so much mistrust here, it’s generational mistrust, that we have to do something to correct it,’

The head of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities (NAM) is speaking out on the need for police body cameras after video of an RCMP officer hitting an intoxicated man with his truck door was released.

The incident took place in Kinngait, formerly Cape Dorset.

The video shows an intoxicated man struggling to walk when an RCMP truck pulls in the video.

As the truck approached the man, the door opens striking him to the ground.

Five officers then collapse on the man. One of the officers appears to knee the man on the ground. When residents came out and stood nearby, a number of the Mounties can be heard shouting “get away.”

“There’s so much mistrust here, it’s generational mistrust, that we have to do something to correct it,” said Kenneth Bell, the head of NAM and mayor of Iqaluit.

“And I think that having a video of situations, from the police’s perspective, that is a government document basically, a government video, I think that will help bridge that trust and be on a better foot moving forward.”

This particular video looks like it was shot on a phone from a nearby home next to where the incident took place.

The officer has been removed from the community pending an investigation from the Ottawa police service, which has a contract to look into any incidents involving the Mounties in Nunavut.

There are currently six active investigations of police conduct in Nunavut – a territory with a population of about 40,000 people.

In one instance, an Iqaluit prisoner died on the way to hospital on a mental health apprehension. In another, a child in Pond Inlet was hit by a police cruiser while sledding on March 30.

The other three incidents were residents being shot by police.

On Feb. 26, Kinngait RCMP shot and killed a man they say was armed. On May 5, a man in Clyde River was shot and killed.

On April 11, a man in the Iqaluit satellite village of Apex was shot after police said he was pointing a rifle at police. The man was later changed with pointing a firearm, uttering threats, breaching a probation order and mischief under $5,000.

A growing and diverse number of Nunavummiut are beginning to call out for RCMP to wear body cameras.

Nunavut’s NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq called for action.

“Historically, the relationship between Inuit and the RCMP has been a rough one. We have heard stories of forced relocation, dog slaughters and sending Nunavummiut south for tuberculosis treatment,” said Qaqqaq in a statement. “We also know that the justice system often times doesn’t work for Indigenous peoples. We have seen, across the country, the need for cultural and sensitivity training.

“With RCMP wearing body cameras, we could have more insight on the challenges and room for improvement within the justice system.”

Pond Inlet MLA David Qamaniq, Nunavut’s Conservative Senator Dennis Patterson are also supporting the use of body cameras.

“(Such incidents) are all too common in the North. I’m concerned about public trust — building that back with the RCMP,” Patterson said.

Video Journalist / Iqaluit

Kent has been APTN’s Nunavut correspondent since 2007. In that time he has closely covered Inuit issues, including devolution and the controversial Nutrition North food subsidy. He has also worked for CKIQ-FM in Iqaluit and as a reporter for Nunavut News North.