Nunavut coroner’s inquest, court services on hold due to COVID-19

The coroner’s inquest into the death of a Gjoa Haven man in a 2016 police shooting has been postponed until next year, along with a host of court and correctional services due to COVID-19 and the territory-wide lockdown. 

The coroner’s office in Nunavut confirmed that the inquest into the shooting death of Charles QIrngnirq has been postponed on mutual consensus. 

The inquest will resume early next year, Acting Chief Coroner Khen Sagadraca said in an email. Regular court operations at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit have been suspended until Jan. 8, 2021. 

Leona Qirngnirq, Charles’ mother, said she was told the inquest would resume in March 2021. 

Eva Qirngnirq, Charles’ grandmother, said she wished the inquest was already over and hopes better policing practices for Inuit will come out of the inquest. 

“They could’ve done something better than shooting [Charles],” Eva told CBC. 

“I wish they could be more respectful and understand what’s going on in the life of the person,” she said, adding Charles had issues with anger and mental health at the time of his death. 

The coroner’s office is an arms-length agency within the justice department. 

Court services suspended

The Nunavut Court of Justice will suspend regular operations until Jan. 8, a release issued by Acting Chief Justice Bonnie Tulloch said Nov. 18. 

Court services will also be reduced, however bail and detention review hearings will continue, Tulloch said in a press release. 

All child welfare and guardianship matters will still go ahead, said Tulloch. 

And new civil matters that can be handled remotely will also be accepted via electronic filing, the judge said. 

Meanwhile, visits to all Nunavut prisons have been on hold since Nov. 13, Assistant Deputy Justice Minister Jessica Young said in an email. 

The department is also working to reduce the inmate population during the territory’s lockdown through early release and release through bail  — but Young said the department has no control or influence over an inmate’s eligibility for release. 

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