'Where was the help?' Parents testify they had no way to prevent daughter's brutal death

They testified at the MMIWG inquiry in Rankin Inlet that Edith Angalik's half-naked body was dragged down the street in -30 C temperatures. Her boyfriend was convicted of manslaughter.

MMIWG inquiry heard that Edith Angalik was brutally beaten by her boyfriend in Rankin Inlet in 2014

Edith Angalik, left, poses here with her older sister who is described as her best friend. Emilia Angalik, Edith's mother, said her daughter liked to wear the colour blue. (Submitted by Emilia and Arsene Angalik)

Emilia Angalik called for a stop to alcohol-fuelled violence in Northern communities during her testimony at the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.

On Wednesday, she spoke about her daughter, Edith Angalik, who died at the age of 25 after she was brutally beaten by her boyfriend Dwayne Sateana in the early morning hours of Nov. 22, 2014.

According to media reports at the time, Edith and Sateana were partying with a few friends the evening before in Rankin Inlet. The group consumed four 40-ounce bottles of whisky, a number of bottles of vodka and beer. Hours later, Sateana discovered Edith had slept with another man and proceeded to punch her. She tried to escape to the laundry room, but he followed her there and continued to beat her. He then dragged her half-naked body down the street to their home in -30 C temperatures.

In July 2015, Sateana, who was 31 at the time, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for manslaughter.

Emilia Angalik says this is the last pic she ever took of Edith. 'No matter how much she was in pain, she was always happy.' (Submitted by Arsene and Emilia Angalik)

Emilia Angalik and her husband, Arsene Angalik, testified they knew Sateana was violent toward their daughter in the months leading up to her death, but couldn't do anything to intervene.

Edith was more open with her father about how she came to acquire broken noses, bruises and other injuries.

"She would whisper to me," said Arsene. "She felt she had to say it to somebody, so she told me."

Edith was afraid to go to the police because Sateana threatened he would hurt the entire family if she said anything, said Arsene.

"She was fearing for her own life," said Emilia.

"And she mentioned one time that if she tells on him that he would come after us too."

Emilia said her daughter liked the colour blue, and that "no matter how much she was in pain, she was always happy." 

Arsene Angalik says Edith enjoyed fishing and being out on the land. (Submitted by Emilia and Arsene Angalik)

'Where was the help when I needed it?'

Emilia and Arsene tried to intervene in other ways. Emilia said social services told her Edith was an adult, so they couldn't do anything to help. They suggested she go to the RCMP. She said the RCMP did visit the couple at their home, but reported back saying they were fine.

"They said they can't help her," said Emilia. "They said she's an adult now."

Arsene said Canadian laws and regulations around intervening in possible domestic abuse situations should be tailored to fit small communities in the North, because people in these places have nowhere to go to escape their abusers.

Emilia Angalik and her husband, Arsene Angalik, testified about their daughter Edith Angalik who died at the age of 25 on Nov. 22, 2014. (MMIWG Rankin Inlet)

After Edith's death, Emilia testified that RCMP started coming by her house in an attempt to offer support, which she rejected out of anger.

"The more he stayed around, it would make me more angry," she said.

"Where was the help when I needed it? Why wait so late for it after?"

Emilia and Arsene adopted Edith's children. Her middle child is now seven years old — old enough to ask where his mom is, said Emilia.

"I don't know what to say to my grandchild," testified Emilia.

"[He] can't understand his mother was murdered … I just tell him she died from a pop. He thinks, 'Oh, pops are bad now,' meaning alcohol."

Arsene ended the testimony by saying the problems he and his wife described around alcohol-related domestic abuse and lack of support are real problems in Northern communities.

"It's something that needs to be dealt with," he said.

"They knew there was domestic abuse, but only when it was too late they tried to help."

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