Arctic Communities Fight for Justice and Resources to Overcome Tragic Deaths
In January 2020 a trial concluded for the murder of Nunavik teen Robert Adams, with a life sentence handed to his killer. The news didn’t make headlines beyond the Arctic, nor was the full extent of the story revealed to a larger audience in the mainstream media. However, a special report on Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic website looked at one family’s loss in the larger context of a dysfunctional justice system and poor social support in Canada’s far north.
Published a year before the trial, “Death in the Arctic” featured the family of Robert Adams, who endured the tragic loss. Adams was murdered during a night out with friends in the Inuit village of Kangiqsujuaq, Quebec in March 2018. His father Bernie Adams is searching for answers to understand why the government has done little to change day to day life in remote Inuit Communities, which includes violence, high rates of suicide and accidents. Many of these issues do not make mainstream media as these communities are ignored and treated as if they are not a part of Canada. The media outlet focuses on the community’s stories and the fight for justice and resources to help their community to overcome these tragedies
In the report, Bernie Adams speaks about the role of Canada’s residential schools policy in fostering violence and abuse, and the murder and suicides that continue in his village today. He explains that politicians are not listening, leaving the community to deal with this crisis on its own. His son’s problems began when he was hit by a truck and fell into a coma. Adams recovered and returned home, however the damage done to his brain was irreversible. Before his death, Adam was back in school and had started to play sports and re-engage in social activities, including the house party that descended into violence and took his life. A section of the webpage titled ‘The Community’ further explains the lack of resources available for families who have faced traumatic events such as accidents, murder or suicide. The community of Kangiqsujuaq is a small fly-in only community made up of 750 people who receive very minimal support for the government; they also are not given a public platform to share the issues within their community and are often overlooked.
In the words of Bernie Adams, “We’re all afraid. That if we speak out against the provincial or federal government, the southerners will say all we want is money and we should just get over it. That if we speak out against Inuit politicians or organizations, we, or our family members, might lose our jobs with them, or that our fellow Inuit will say we’re just trying to be ‘white.’”
Source: Eilis Quinn, “Man gets life sentence for murder of Nunavik teen Robert Adams in Arctic Quebec,” Eye on the Arctic (Radio Canada International), January 16, 2020, https://www.rcinet.ca/eye-on-the-arctic/2020/01/16/mattiusie-qamugaaluk-gets-life-sentence-for-murder-of-nunavik-teen-robert-adams-in-arctic-quebec/.
Student Researcher: Alicia Morrow (University of Regina)
Faculty Evaluator: Kehinde Olalafe (University of Regina)
Review Article with Credder