Housing in Nunavut is in such short supply that a home that was the site of a suspected murder-suicide will be renovated, rather than destroyed.

In March, 2013, 23-year-old Aalaa Surusimmituq Michael was found dead in her Kimmirut home, along with her two-year-old son Cory.

The body of the father, Qapik Josephie, 27, was also found in the suspected murder-suicide.

“It was quite a huge shock to the community because they were such a young couple and well known,” says Mike Richards, the hamlet’s interim senior administrative officer.

Since that event, people in Kimmirut have lived with a grim reminder — the boarded up home in a central part of town.

Kimmirut murder house

“The structure sits in a very prominent geographical place in the community so there's a lot of grief felt in the community,” Richards says.

In November, Kimmirut’s hamlet council sent a letter to the Nunavut Housing Corporation asking to demolish the place.

Now the Nunavut Housing Corporation has made its decision: the home will not be destroyed. Rather, the outside appearance will be changed and renovated.

“Of course NHC has tremendous sympathy and respect for what people are going through there,” says Lori Kimball, interim president and CEO of the NHC.

Qapik Josephie

Qapik Josephie with his two-year-old son Cory.

“We don't want to minimize the emotional toll that these events take, but at the same time it's outside of our authority to remove an asset from the Government of Nunavut."

Kimball says destroying the house would require approval by the financial management board and the full legislative assembly. “We are not able to have the authority to actually recommend or to approve a demolition of the unit.”

The decision was reached along with the mayor and SAO of Kimmirut.

Kimball says there is a severe housing shortage in Nunavut.

She says the house will eventually be renovated and used for purposes other than social housing, such as temporary housing for workers.

“If we can make the dwelling still provide a purpose, while still being very respectful to the family, that's the optimal solution rather than just tearing it down,” Kimball says.