Iqaluit mother 'humiliated' by photo of son sleeping outside

An Iqaluit woman says she was devastated to see a photo of her son, sleeping on the pavement outside a local grocery store, circulating in the media this week.
In an interview Friday, the mother of a boy photographed sleeping outside the Iqaluit NorthMart store told CBC News that police officers called her one of the worst parents they had ever met. ((CBC))
An Iqaluit woman says she was devastated to see a photo of her son sleeping on the pavement outside a local grocery store that circulated in the media this week.

The single mother of five, who cannot be identified to protect her children's identity, told CBC News she was worried sick when one of her boys did not come home in the early morning of July 26.

The woman, who said she is in her 30s, said she first saw the photo of her 10-year-old son — which has been circulating on the internet and in local media all week — Thursday evening on Igalaaq, CBC-TV's Inuktitut-language news program.

"Shocked, humiliated, embarrassed — it felt awful," the woman said in an interview Friday before she broke down.

The woman said she was upset to see her son sleeping on the pavement outside the NorthMart store, surrounded by garbage and cigarette butts and wearing only a pair of shorts and a hoodie.

A friend of the boy was also visible in the picture, curled up next to a garbage can.

Stayed up during 24-hour daylight

An Iqaluit resident took this picture of two boys, sleeping outside the NorthMart store, in the early hours of July 26. The photo was then sent to local media outlets, including CBC News, this week. ((Submitted by Evie Eegeesiak))
The woman said her son had been wanting to stay up all night during the 24-hour daylight that Iqaluit experiences in the summer.

The mother said she had called police about 20 times before about her son's disappearances.

But that morning on July 26, RCMP officers brought the boy back to her house, saying he was cold and sleeping outside the NorthMart store.

"I was heartbroken. I had no idea that he was sleeping out there," the mother said.

"The RCMP, they weren't so happy, and they were saying that, 'You are practically the worst parent that I've ever met.'"

The woman said she had separated from her partner at the end of June, then fell ill with the flu for seven weeks. Two of her children were also sick.

"I was going through too much. I was sick, I was all alone," she said.

"He's just a kid, he doesn't have to worry about all this … he was tired, maybe, overwhelmed."

The mother and social services officials have jointly agreed to put her children in temporary foster care for a month while she regains her strength, she said.

The woman said she wants the public to know that she's doing her best and loves her children. She said she does not do drugs and rarely goes out.

"I love my children so much. I love them. I want them to be healthy — physically, mentally, emotionally," she said.

"I want them to grow strong, independent and know what's good for them and what's bad, and [I want to] teach them right from wrong and guide them along the way."