(Siasi Tullaugak’s body was discovered Aug. 29 in Montreal.)
APTN National News
Still reeling from the deaths of two Inuk women in Montreal, social workers in the city say police did not do a thorough enough investigation into their deaths.
Sharon Baron and Siasi Tullaugak, both 27, both from northern Quebec, died days apart.
Police ruled both suicides.
“I’ll tell you the homeless community don’t believe it was a suicide,” said David Chapman, acting director of Open Doors, a Montreal shelter.
“She was not someone who talked about suicide, or appeared to have symptoms of depression”
Three months ago, APTN went looking for people to talk about the Open Door shelter and found Tullaugak.
Originally from Puvirnituq, Nunavik, she was at the shelter to meet people.
APTN: Why did you come to Montreal?
Siasi: I came here for vacation.
APTN: How long have you been here for?”
Siasi: “Since April 14.
APTN: Do you like it here?”
Siasi: (pause) “No. Not really.”
Times were hard – Tullaugak never made it home.
Social workers told APTN National News that she fell into drug use and the sex trade.
Then on August 29, police found her body.
(Montreal police parked outside the apartment where the body of Siasi Tullaugak was discovered Aug. 29)
And said it was a suicide.
There was no note.
“There’s been some people who were there with Siasi that night that haven’t been interviewed and have some important information,” said Jessica Quijano from the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal.
“A lot of the women are sure that Siasi was murdered, and they feel like they might make another target.”
(Jessica Quijano from the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal.)
APTN National News requested an interview with police about the cases but was turned down.
A spokesperson did say Tullaugak was not murdered.
And that the investigation is closed.
Front line workers said they find it hard to believe that the case is open and shut.
“The day it happened, I went walking around the block where Siasi’s body was found,” said John Tessier, Intervention worker at the Open Door shelter. ““I ran into somebody who I believed had some very strong information somebody the police had spoken to that evening right after it happened, for an hour before they let him go.
“He told me exact timelines, things that he heard, he heard screams, he saw the police ignoring things that I think were very pertinent to an investigation.”
Quijano said people’s skepticism towards the police is justified.
“A lot of people are feeling that there hasn’t been a proper investigation,” she said. “And considering the history of police throughout this country with Indigenous communities, that’s totally understandable.”
(Sharon Baron was discovered in her Dorval apartment a few days after Siasi Tullaugak.)
A vigil is being held Friday night in Cabot Square for Tullaugak and Barron, who was from Kangiqsualujjuaq Que.
In light of the two tragedies, Montreal’s shelter for Indigenous peoples (Projet Autochtones de Quebec, or P.A.Q) has increased its hours.
Contact Tom here: firstname.lastname@example.org