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Solomon Uyarasuk inquest: Jury recommends reopening investigation

The jury at a coroner's inquest in Igloolik is recommending the investigation into the death of Solomon Uyarasuk in RCMP cells be reopened.
Igloolik, Nunavut, has been the site all week of a coroner's inquest looking into the death in an RCMP cell of Solomon Uyarasuk, 26, two years ago. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

The jury at a coroner's inquest in Igloolik is recommending the investigation into the death of Solomon Uyarasuk in RCMP cells be reopened.

Uyarasuk died in September 2012 after he was taken into custody following a complaint about loud noise in his housing unit. 

A nurse testified he found Uyarasuk unresponsive with a belt around his neck, hooked to the cell door.  

The lawyer for the RCMP had asked the jury to find suicide as the manner of death, but the jury decided on a verdict of undetermined.

The coroner's jury of three men and three women came up with nine recommendations, many of them suggestions from Uyarasuk's family.

Besides reopening the investigation into his death, they also include:

  • never leaving a prisoner unattended
  • that RCMP immediately take steps to install video surveillance cameras in all RCMP vehicles, detachments and cells and electronically store the recordings
  • that GN medical staff adhere to the policy of seeing patients in the custody of the RCMP only in designated health centres or hospitals in Nunavut
  • training for all RCMP members in Inuit knowledge and culture 
  • that the RCMP issue a service knife to officers in uniform in all Nunavut detachments
  • that RCMP receive orientation about the detachment where they are working ... including the location of the first aid kit and other supplies
  • that RCMP detachments be inspected regularly and that deficiencies are fixed in a timely manner
  • that the RCMP acquire hook knives for all RCMP cell block areas

Garth Eggenberger, a coroner from the N.W.T.,  handled the inquest on behalf of Nunavut's Chief Coroner Padma Suramala. He thanked the jury for their work.​

Uyarasuk's biological mother Rhoda Qanatsiaq said she is happy with the verdict and that it was the one she was hoping for. She said she got more out of the inquest than she thought she would but she's still finding it difficult to move on from her son's death.​

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