Nunatsiavut Government calls for independent investigation into death of Inuk woman

The Nunatsiavut Government is calling for an independent police investigation into the death of a 23- year-old Inuk woman whose body was removed from a makeshift tent in a wooded area of Happy Valley-Goose Bay during the early morning hours of November 15. 

“We have reason to believe the RCMP made assumptions as to the cause of death before carrying out a thorough investigation,” says Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe. 

The victim, originally from Nain, was a frequent visitor and client of the Housing Hub, an emergency shelter operated by the Nunatsiavut Government in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. 

“Concerns have been raised that police neglected to interview key witnesses before issuing a public statement that the woman’s death was not suspicious,” notes President Lampe. “Questions have also been raised as to whether the police properly secured the scene, and may have also left potential evidence behind. Has the RCMP learned anything from the national inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, which denounced decades of police indifference and systemic racism and which called for fundamental policing reforms? 

“Would this matter have been handled differently if the victim wasn’t a homeless or transient Indigenous woman living in a tent?” This is the second death of a Labrador Inuk in recent weeks that has raised serious questions and concerns. A man was found dead in a segregation unit cell at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s on November 7, not long after an apparently intense altercation with corrections officers. The police investigation into that matter is ongoing.