Two Inuit women killed within three-week period remembered as smiling, kind

The deaths happened as resources for Indigneous people are being cut back, say support workers.

Kitty Kakkinerk and Dinah Matte remembered at a memorial in Cabot Square in downtown Montreal

Friends gathered to remember Kitty Kakkinerk and Dinah Matte at a ceremony in Cabot Square in downtown Montreal. (CBC)

The deaths of two Inuit women in downtown Montreal within a three-week period have shaken an already fragile community.

On Wednesday afternoon, friends gathered in Cabot Square to remember Kitty Kakkinerk and Dinah Matte, both killed recently in traffic accidents.

Those close to her say Kakkinerk was in distress when she ran out into traffic and was hit by a truck on Parc Avenue on July 27.

"The loss is very fresh for everybody. A lot of them stay in the same place where we lost her so they can be with her. It makes it even more hard because they won't leave," said Sheri Pranteau, an Indigenous support worker.

"They sit there and their grief is so heavy," she said.

Kitty Kakkinerk and Dinah Matte both died in traffic accidents in the span of three weeks. (Native Women's Shelter of Montreal/Facebook)

Two weeks earlier, Dinah Matte was killed in a hit-and-run on Ste-Catherine Street, according to the Native Women's Shelter. 

Nogeeshik Isaac, who knew both of the women, says he was shocked by their sudden deaths.

"They were good women," he said, "I wish that we had a longer time with them."

Isaac remembers Kakkinerk as always having a smile on her face. Matte, he says, was a kind woman, always there to help others if they needed a hand.

Indigenous support worker Pierre Parent says their deaths come at a time when services for Indigenous people in Montreal are being scaled back due to the pandemic.

Organizations working with them say the deaths are especially tragic because they happened right near organizations that offer help to those in need: Resilience Montreal in Cabot Square on Ste-Catherine Street and The Open Door, on Parc Avenue.

With files from Holly Cabrera