A Nunavut judge has sentenced a 38-year-old Kugaaruk man to life in prison for the murder of his wife.

Bruce Kayaitok was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his wife, 30-year-old Brenda Tootiak. At his trial in Iqaluit in April of last year, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter but the Crown refused to accept that plea.

On June 13, 2008 Bruce Kayaitok was at home in Kugaaruk with his common law spouse Brenda Tootiak.

The pair had been in an on-and-off abusive relationship for 14 years, though court records show that Tootiak was planning to leave Kayaitok and the community with their two children.

That morning there was an argument.

Kayaitok admitted in court that he assaulted Tootiak. He then stabbed her twice in the abdomen with a broken mop handle. One of the wounds was at least six inches deep.

Kayaitok admitted to police that he cleaned up the blood and hid the weapon between two cushions before taking Tootiak to the health centre, where she bled to death.

He had told health staff she slipped in the shower.

At the time, Kayaitok was sober. The night before, he had told a friend he wanted to kill someone.

Their sons, ages three and five, were in the house when the stabbing occurred.

Kayaitok has been in custody since his arrest.

He was in court in Kugaaruk yesterday for his sentencing hearing before Justice Earl Johnson.

He will serve his time in a federal penitentiary in southern Canada, and will be eligible to apply for parole after 15 years.

The judge also ordered a mandatory lifetime firearms prohibition and a DNA order.

There were a number of delays in the case, which took six years to produce a sentence, in part because of several changes in defence lawyers.


  • A previous version of this story stated Bruce Kayaitok had pleaded guilty to manslaughter. That plea was not accepted by the Crown prosecutor and he was convicted of second-degree murder.
    Mar 26, 2014 6:14 PM CT