north-alice-black-file

Alice Black, seen in a family photo, was killed on Feb. 27, 2009 in Gameti, N.W.T. Her husband, Terry Vital, was sentenced this week to seven years in jail for manslaughter. (CBC)

The sisters of a Gameti, N.W.T., woman who was beaten to death say the seven-year jail sentence handed to her husband this week is not enough.

Terry Vital, 35, received the sentence after pleading guilty on Monday to manslaughter in the Feb. 27, 2009, death of Alice Black, 31.

Black's body was found in the remote Tlicho Dene community, located about 240 kilometres north of Yellowknife. Court heard that Vital had kicked and beaten Black after they had consumed alcohol with friends.

But with time credited for the 11 months he has spent in custody, Vital has 5½ years remaining in his sentence. He will be eligible for day parole in less than one year.

"It's like the law, it told me my sister's death was nothing," Tina Black, Alice Black's youngest sister, told CBC News after the hearing.

"They made it pretty easy for anybody who can commit crimes against women," said Louisa Black, their oldest sister.

'I'll never have peace'

The sisters said their disappointment at the sentence was compounded by their father's decision to forgive Alice's killer. Joe Black embraced a tearful Vital twice during Monday's sentencing hearing.

Tina Black said she does not understand why her father did that, but she said she will eventually forgive him.

However, she added that she will never be able to overcome how the Northwest Territories' justice system dealt with Vital.

"It's always going to be with me now. I'll never have peace," Tina Black said.

"What if something like this happens to my children and my nieces, or other people, or my friends? Like, it's so easy to get away with something like this."

Two counsellors from the Tlicho Community Services Agency have travelled to Gameti to offer support to its 300 residents as they cope with what happened.

"We have a counsellor who is in there until Friday, and she speaks Tlicho, is Tlicho and knows the members of the community well," said Blanche Shahbaghlian, the agency's manager of child and family services.

"We also have another Tlicho woman, whose first language is Tlicho, and she has done extensive work as a support person in the region and knows the family well and is in the community for a week."

Shahbaghlian said more counselling will be provided if the community needs it.