Singer Susan Aglukark said TimesUp Thursday and called out the family friend who sexually abused her as a little girl.
“His name is Norman Ford,” she said between sobs as she testified in a hotel banquet room in her hometown of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.
“Norman Ford you didn’t win. Now the community knows what you did.”
Word had spread throughout the remote community on the shore of Hudson Bay about what the Inuk singer was planning to do on the final day of hearings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
More from day 3 of the National Inquiry into MMIWG public hearings in Rankin Inlet
Every chair was taken as she recounted the details leading up to the abuse that she said occurred when she was eight years old.
At times, her famous voice was not more than a whisper as she revealed “she still lived with fear” despite being “a grown woman.”
“But still, when I come back home to Rankin, I’ll be at the store and I’ll be cautious,” said Aglukark, 51. “Take a quick look down the aisle in case he’s there.”
Aglugark said she was triggered earlier this week upon learning Ford faced more criminal charges. And that made up her mind to reveal his name.
“After 25 years here in this community – how many more victims,” she cried breaking down again.
Aglukark stopped to collect herself before continuing: “Why are acts of violence against children OK?”
She said she knew of at least four other predators in the community of about 2,800.
Aglukark, along with hockey player Jordin Tootoo, is one of the most famous people to come from the Arctic territory. She first broke her silence nearly 20 years ago but didn’t name the convicted pedophile until now. She said his name is not on the national child abuse list because it didn’t exist in 1990.
Her disclosure provided a dramatic finish to this week’s hearings that focused on “rampant” child sexual abuse and domestic violence.
While poised and confident in the limelight, Aglukark said she is riddled with anxiety and migraines in private.
“I hate entertaining,” she said. “I will sing for you; I will not entertain you. I liken it to him posing me to take his pictures.”
Aglukark said Ford took three photos with a Polaroid camera after forcing himself on her, making her hate to have her picture taken.
She said she travels with a big safety pin to fasten the curtains together in every hotel room.
“I still close every closet door before I go to bed in case he can see me.”
The abuse stole her innocence, she said, and that’s why she wants to protect other children. Aglukark has a foundation that raises awareness about suicide prevention, which has reached epidemic levels in Nunavut.
Other witnesses this week blamed that epidemic on child sexual abuse they say was caused by colonization through residential schools and religion imposed on the Inuit.
“Many abusers themselves are victims,” Aglukark said. “There’s rampant incest through many generations.”
Aglukark’s testimony moved Commissioner Qajaq Robinson to tears.
“This isn’t about choosing sides,” she said, “it’s about making our communities safe for everybody.”
Aglukark said Ford served a third of an 18-month sentence while she suffered for life. She called for recognition that pedophiles won’t change and more programs to help survivors heal.
A request to the RCMP to confirm Ford’s charges was not returned before this story was published.