A video showing Nunavut RCMP striking a seemingly intoxicated man with a police truck in Kinngait (Cape Dorset) has residents in the territory asking questions about policing and a growing coalition of political voices calling for mandatory body cameras.
“It is about the safety of everyone involved and with this addition to the uniform; we will help protect service members and citizens at the same time,” said Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell on behalf of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities.
On June 1, RCMP responded to a report of an intoxicated man in Kinngait.
The video shows a man in the community of 1,400, struggling to get to his feet and stumbling in the heavy slush.
A lone RCMP officer arrived in a truck and open the driver’s side door while still moving.
The moving truck door strikes the man, knocking him to the ground.
By the end of the incident, he is surrounded by five RCMP officers and detained.
The Kinngait RCMP Detachment usually has six members.
Toward the end of the video, two youth can been seen witnessing the arrest and residents can be heard heckling RCMP as the man is taken away.
The RCMP said the officer has been removed from the community while an investigation takes place.
“The RCMP takes the conduct of our officers seriously and want to assure the public we have confidence in the process of the external investigation to determine the circumstances of the event and whether criminal charges should be sworn against the officer,” said a statement from Cpl. Jamie Savikataaq.
“As the matter is now subject of an external criminal investigation and an internal conduct investigation, we cannot comment any further at this time.”
Ottawa Police investigating 5 separate incidents in Nunavut
Nunavut RCMP are currently under investigation for five different incidents in Nunavut since the beginning of 2020.
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 and killed.
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 charged with pointing a firearm, uttering threats, breaching a probation order and mischief under $5,000.
All five of these incidents are being investigated by the Ottawa Police Service, which has an agreement with the Mounties to look into police-involved incidents.
A growing and diverse number of Nunavummiut are beginning to call out for RCMP to wear body cameras.
Pond Inlet MLA David Qamaniq, Nunavut’s Conservative Senator Dennis Patterson and Nunavut’s NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq all 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.”