Inuk singer Susan Aglukark outs her childhood abuser - APTN NewsAPTN News

Inuk singer Susan Aglukark outs her childhood abuser

Kathleen Martens
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.

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72 Responses to “Inuk singer Susan Aglukark outs her childhood abuser”

    Tuukittaaki February 26, 2018 at 10:46 pm #

    Susan, if you can, forgive the event of trauma and later come back to it and see whether you are ready to forgive the perpetrator. If not, don’t rush into a decision until you are ready and willing to do so. You are an awesome woman who shared your beautiful voice with all of us. Quana.

    Mary Stapleton February 26, 2018 at 2:00 am #

    The Creator gives us our world and choices including to do good. May every man who has ever harmed a girl or a woman think about the ultimate selfishness and destruction of the soul that he has done. May every woman who has experienced dehumanization in this way, find light and strength. May the Creator help us to make this happen.

    katherine cooper February 25, 2018 at 6:39 pm #

    your voice is heard throughout turtle island…thank you

    Jane Milligan February 24, 2018 at 9:00 pm #

    What a courageous act, Susan that you demonstrated in finding your voice, not your beautiful singing voice but your voice of truth in naming the indignity done to you for which you were not responsible. Your bravery will serve to allow others to speak their truth and let others know that they can refuse to feel any blame. You are an inspiration.

    Dana Gaskin Wenig February 24, 2018 at 6:58 pm #

    Ms. Aglukark, thank you for your courage – it inspires me to be brave and speak. <3

    Siobhan February 24, 2018 at 12:51 pm #

    Susan, many years ago you were sitting in front of me on a plane. I had a screaming child with me and was travelling alone. You were so sympathetic to this frazzled young mom (it’s nearly 20 years ago now). I send you hugs and tears for the courage you have shown. The fact that you have stood up in public and performed your heart out and now have taken this latest brave step shows just how strong you really are.

    Denise Neese Olin February 24, 2018 at 12:49 pm #

    #StandUpForFutureGenerations WAY TO GO Susan! Very well done! I hope it’ll wake people up and prevent at least one child from falling victim to this predator! I actually hope hundreds are saved from predators in your community and my community! #SaveOurChildrenFromPredators

    I grew up in a very tiny community, less than 150 people. I outed one of my abusers on fb. I hope to help kids too! I will out more as time goes on. I was so scared posting it, thinking people would try asking me to remove my post. I was shocked at no one asking that of me! It makes me feel brave to our more!


    Shyamal Bagchee February 24, 2018 at 8:16 am #

    Susan Aglukark, you have long been on my very short list of cultural and pesonal icons. I do not envy even one bit your long and painfully sustained inner agony and terror caused by a person who is no more than an animal. You speak not only for yourself, but also for many many other equally traumatised victims. I salute you for all the good you have brought about through this candid telling.

    a heart February 24, 2018 at 4:39 am #

    You are so powerful and inspirational. Thank you. I wish you to heal. xx

    Tara February 24, 2018 at 3:49 am #

    Way to free yourself!!!! After all these years, let that scared girl free! I’m proud of you!

    Your Lakotah sister!

    Ulrikka February 24, 2018 at 2:16 am #

    Sending love and prayers your way❤️

    Storm February 23, 2018 at 11:27 pm #

    I’d like to be involved in the movement in support of victims i.e. recovery, support, prevention, etc.

    Norma Kennedy February 23, 2018 at 11:13 pm #

    These creeps are the lowest form of life ! To think they can attack a child is unbelievable ! Don’t ever call the “a man”. They are a disgrace to humanity ! Maybe a threat to the chopping block would be the answer !

    Genevieve Payn February 23, 2018 at 8:58 pm #

    Susan – how courageous you are. Throw away the safety pin – leave the closet doors open – he cannot see you nor can he harm you ever again. He is exorcised from you forever. Brave lady.

    Margie Gillis February 23, 2018 at 8:56 pm #

    Thank you foe speaking your truth. You are braves and the courage you have shown will be the impetus others need to also speak up! Then more children will be protected! May you be strengthened with healing peace and confidence in yourself today and for every tomorrow!

    James Prince February 23, 2018 at 8:17 pm #

    Good morning, Thank you,
    I think that Susan is very strong after all those years to be successful and still enduring such pain. I am 63 and have endures such pain from an abuser at Lejac Indian Residential School in Fraser Lake BC in the 60’s. I had no idea that it would change my life so late in my life. Good for you Susan !

    Mahara Allbrett February 23, 2018 at 5:47 pm #

    I agree with all the statements above and would like to add from my experience as a Counsellor for over 30 years that there is a lot of hope for healing. The trauma symptoms that Susan describes can be eliminated or greatly reduced, though it takes time and good therapy. Breaking the silence and secrecy that often surrounds abuse is an important step, athough it can be difficult and even dangerous within our communities. She has the power in this situation though and that is good!

    Tess February 23, 2018 at 5:28 pm #

    Oh so brave. May I say my picture?I will use my best words, I see you have healed – don’t let his definitions overtake you and say you are not. Wounded yes, scarred yes. And, Yes, you have strategies for survival (safety pinning the curtains, closing closet doors) that may seem like you are still victim – but you learnt these as a child. You hold onto them for safety knowing the world is not safe. BUT you are a survivor and warrior. You sing, your voice a sound of beauty. He has not won and he did not silence you. I speak from experience – an experience that still has me calculating the safest side of the bed to sleep in so I can get away. in the aftermath of what should never happen to anyone, we live as a trinity: victim, survivor, warrior. And yes elements of victim will surface unexpectedly, as triggers BUT it is not all you are. Your survivor and warrior are strong and whole and part of you too. When you learn this and embrace it – that is healing, when the triggers surface and you remember this is the cycle and my survivor and warrior are here too, The cycles get longer, the spiral widens and there are days then weeks, then months, and then years when you do not even think of him. This is my promise.

    Arnajaaq Lynge February 23, 2018 at 5:12 pm #

    Oqaatigisinnaagakku pikkoripputit. Nukittuvutit, Susan.

    Patricia February 23, 2018 at 4:50 pm #

    I knew you as a young girl and also knew your perpetrator and it now makes me ill to my stomach that this was happening to you. My prayers go out to you that you are able to heal.

      Pat Elliott February 26, 2018 at 5:19 am #

      I wonder how many other young people in this community were abused by this person or other people and no-one ever knew. Pretty sure Susan wasn’t his only victim. Hopefully Susan’s testimony will cause release of much more community support and information. Too many generations of isolation and family secrets. Another commenter told of similar abuse, she said her family told her to ‘be quiet, and don’t tell anyone’. I think for many of us this was the answer. Maybe now men and women can finally be allowed to speak the truth – it’s frightening, but it’s a good thing.

    Michelle Sim February 23, 2018 at 4:49 pm #

    I am proud of you Susan.

    Denis A. St-Onge February 23, 2018 at 4:33 pm #

    Susan I have been working in the Arctic since 1959 and have given numerous presentations on cruise ships, communities and elsewhere; your song have been an inspiration to me and to many others because I have used them in my presentations

    Dorothy February 23, 2018 at 4:08 pm #

    We are starting a women’s coalition in Barrow Alaska to bring voice to the voiceless. Quyanaqpak for sharing.

    Steven Smith February 23, 2018 at 3:34 pm #

    Tell it sister

    Lorraine Purvin-Good February 23, 2018 at 3:07 pm #

    I’m sorry to hear of the abuse, Susan.
    I was moved by your performance in Whitehorse a few years ago. You are so open and honest when you sing. Your spirit shines. Thank you for your gift.

    Lorraine February 23, 2018 at 3:04 pm #

    I’m sorry to learn of your abuse, Susan. I was moved by your performance in Whitehorse a few years ago, you were so open, so honest in your singing. Your spirit shines. Thank you for your gift.

    Lisa Michel February 23, 2018 at 2:33 pm #

    That takes Great Courage Susan Aglukark You don.t know me but I am proud of you. From experiañce I know how freeing that is. He no longer has power over you.Peace

    Barbara Pickering February 23, 2018 at 2:01 pm #

    The most valuable aspect of the Enquiry will be the exposure of the rampant sexual abuse in the Indigenous communities. The extent of the abuse is too extensive to be dealt with on a case by case basis. Hopefully the communities will develop community based, community wide programs that focus on restorative justice through healing, and reconciliation, for victims, perpetrators and the communities at large.

      Pat Elliott February 26, 2018 at 4:57 am #

      Hi Christine – You put it beautifully. Most people can’t even be honest, but when a kid tells you something, one way or another you really have to stop and listen. You are proof that no-one believes kids. I hope that times have changed a bit, that men and women can accuse and charge their abusers and that someone will listen. You’re right, it’s far more common and acceptable nowadays for someone to admit they were abused – maybe the authorities will actually listen. I’ve read a few comments about ‘forgiveness’ and getting on with your life – NOT! Justice is the only answer, but publicity will at least make it more difficult for the predators to do more harm.

    Tammy February 23, 2018 at 1:51 pm #

    Good for her to be so courageous!❤️ She is a fantastic performer and singer and is a wonderful role model for young girls and all women Stay strong and thank you for doing this❤️❤️

    June Greenlaw February 23, 2018 at 12:25 pm #

    What a beautiful, brave young woman. I was blessed to hear her sing at a concert many years ago in Yellowknife, and still have the cd, that I bought at the time.How sad tshe has not been able to enjoy the life God gave her. Perhaps now she will move past the fear and be able to heal. Speaking out and revealing the truth can be freeing.

    Virg February 23, 2018 at 12:09 pm #

    Hugs Susan ❤️

    Glenda Tulk February 23, 2018 at 11:58 am #

    Thank you for being brave!

    A. Walsh February 23, 2018 at 10:27 am #

    My heart goes out to you as I know your pain. I believe that it is not only due to colonization by the white but the ability for men to overpower women and sexual perversion inherent in all races and cultures. It cannot and should not be blamed on one race or one colour of people. It should be acknowledged for what it is. Sexual perversion in mankind and counseling, education and breaking the silence are the first steps to breaking the cycle. My love to all my sisters of every colour.

      Christine February 24, 2018 at 4:04 pm #

      I agree 100%! I am a survivor of white sexual abuse by an uncle and a police officer and I am “white”. This abuse has no colour, predators come in every colour! Thank you for your courage Susan. I tried to have my uncle charged but it was “stayed” because it happened when I was 4 years old and continued until I was taken away and put in a home. I am 70 years old and it eats away at me to this day. It is so hard to trust even the most innocent displays of kindness. Prayers that the more these predators are outed, this horrendous crime will stop

    Charlie February 23, 2018 at 9:33 am #

    Little sister I know your pain 🙁 … And no they will not win!

    SharonJ February 23, 2018 at 8:12 am #

    OMG. Bless her for her incredible courage.

    Denise Miller February 23, 2018 at 6:46 am #

    Prayers for all of us who have suffered from sexual abuse… So proud to see women own their voice and regain their strength!!!

    Ilisapi February 23, 2018 at 6:20 am #

    More Inuit pediphiles are unknown. We should also reveal their names!

    Ginny February 23, 2018 at 4:54 am #

    I am so sorry that you were hurt. You are brave to stand up to your abuser.

    Laurie February 23, 2018 at 4:40 am #

    What a brave woman. A model for others. An inspiration, truly.

    Mikel February 23, 2018 at 4:35 am #

    If I may, we survivors survive, because we owe it to ourselves, our own internal worth, because we are of great worth that nothing nor no one can take from us; nor can we take it away from ourselves… Blessed be.

      Pat Elliott February 26, 2018 at 4:34 am #

      This despicable person lived there for many years. I’m sure Susan wasn’t his only victim. Perhaps now the avalanche will start and all of the young people, not only his victims, will find the courage to rid their communities of people like him. It’s like Hollywood for the past year, women and men were forced to accept sexual abuse to get ahead with their careers – this is different. Young children have been forced to accept abuse to go on living in their communities and not bring shame on their families by “going public”. I’m certainly more aware that there are many underlying reasons for the epidemic of youth suicide in the North. I can only thank Susan Aglukark.

    Beverley Peacock February 23, 2018 at 4:18 am #

    ..and also to the young man in the addtional video..Brave, courageous, you are part of a good wave of change..Love and respect Brother.

    the silent one February 23, 2018 at 4:15 am #

    I will never be able to say aloud… am just relieved that man is dead! I don’t have to see his face anywhere ever again… others roam freely its gross! from where I am in my life today there is a silent heartache hidden… how they get away with it at the time? and the why does the victim keep it a secret? threatened as a child? ever sick feeling

    Beverley Peacock February 23, 2018 at 4:11 am #

    This is what courage and bravery looks like…Much love and respect to you Sister..

    Cecelia Keyes February 23, 2018 at 4:03 am #

    Susan Aglukark, You are a courageous woman!! You have saved other children from this despicable man by speaking out and using his name. He does not need to be protected by you or anyone. He is responsible for his actions that took life and safety from children. I hope this courageous action brings you more healing and freedom. And peace.

    Liz February 23, 2018 at 4:03 am #

    Way to take back your power! Very proud of you!

    mary jane Metatawabin February 23, 2018 at 3:58 am #

    Everywhere one looks it’s filled with fear and the shuddering. Everywhere one turns the unexpected. There are no what ifs. It is always there. The constant search of where am I?

    Lorene February 23, 2018 at 3:31 am #

    This made me cry like a baby. Predators dont realize that we grow up and it affects us in everyway as adults and through our lives. Im 51 and still feel resentful cuz justice is not served and their names are always hush hush. Even our own families tell us not to “say anything”. So they live to continue to be pigs. If its brought out in the open and it affects another family who is friends with your family or everyone knows then you become the bad one for saying anything. Its so unfair. Forgiveness is what I do but the damages are done. I get moments when something triggers this off and I get so angry that they walked away free I just want some sorta justice hoping I would heal. I dont know about your family but my cocum used to say to not say anything. I know Im not the only victim. We grow up to feel like we are the culprits and a trouble maker if you say anything. This is making me cry as its not fair. Its formed so many things I think and act that wouldnt be considered normal. Anyway….so very proud of you. I hope you are set free

      Pat Elliott February 26, 2018 at 3:53 am #

      “Predators” is the real word. It’s so difficult to understand that when you were so young and honest and told your family, that you were told to “be quiet”. This enabled that sicko to continue to destroy more young lives. I understand that life in a small remote community is totally different, but not really. When the kids are honest and open enough to tell what is happening – hard to understand why the whole community couldn’t be made aware of this bad guy. It took Susan Aglukark many years to go against ‘community’ opinion and actually name this – he’s not a man, he’s a piece of shit. I hope her testimony and description of how she has her life will somehow impact all those adults who told their kids to ‘be quiet’ and make them realize that child abuse in any form reflects on their ‘bad parenting’. Suicide is rampant, now I’m beginning to understand why. Thank you for opening my eyes and my mind.

    Patricia February 23, 2018 at 3:26 am #

    May her courage move more women to find their voice. Susan, you have my respect; please know that now that you have put the truth out there that the healing of yourself and so many generations will be heard by Creator.

    I pray that you will continue to stand in your power and renewed strength and that the cycle of child sexual abuse amd exploitation be broken.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for adding your voice to challenge justice systems and historical impacts.

    Together we rise! Together we are stronger as women! Reclaim our sacredness!

    joanne hansen February 23, 2018 at 3:06 am #

    This is am important story. Thank you. You are awesome.

    Edna Gruben February 23, 2018 at 3:00 am #

    Susan you are an inspiration to me and others that do not have the strength to publicly out there Abuser(s). You are now on your own way to recover from this tragic act. I have had the privilege to see you twice in concert here in Vancouver.

    Cecily Phelan February 23, 2018 at 2:55 am #

    Congratulations Susan…you are very brave….I’m sure that your revelation will help many women and girls deal with their abuse.

    Esther Diabo February 23, 2018 at 2:42 am #

    I don’t know Susan BUT her social media testimony has me crying. It was a powerful statement to call out her abuser. Strong woman Susan. Miigwech. (Ojibwe). I have strong, powerful tears & shed them for others who have suffered any form of abuse as children, including myself.

      Pitsi February 24, 2018 at 10:30 am #

      Susan ❤️ Nukittoqaatit

    Roxy Flett February 23, 2018 at 2:00 am #

    ❤️. Thank you for being brave…

    Leona February 23, 2018 at 12:57 am #

    GOOD FOR YOU SUSAN!!! the creator has his own kind of justice for you Norman Ford

      Elaine February 23, 2018 at 6:15 pm #

      You go Susan, maybe now that you have said his name you may get a little closure. I hope for your sake that you do because nobody should have to live through what you went through and is still living through. My heart goes out to you.

        June Collins February 24, 2018 at 1:20 am #

        I pray that someday you will be able to forgive him, even if it seems he doesn’t deserve it! You will find that forgiveness will set YOU free of any hold he has on you!

        Thank you for sharing your experience and may you finally find the peace you deserve!!

        God be with you!

          Dana Gaskin Wenig February 24, 2018 at 6:57 pm #

          Forgiveness is overrated. Isn’t it a sort of curse to tell someone who’s been abused that they can’t be free and happy until they forgive the person who abused them? As a woman who was also sexually abused as a child, I object to the socially sanctified pressure on abuse survivors to forgive perpetrators. Not their job.

            Birgit Ballantyne February 27, 2018 at 11:45 pm #

            I agree with Dana. I never understood how a person could – or felt they had to – forgive a person that brought you such pain and harm. It won’t lessen your pain, your fears, your anger or heal a life long suffering. To “forgive” is almost saying ok then, it doesn’t really matter.

            sara sparks March 1, 2018 at 11:45 am #

            I don’t go along with that whole “forgiveness” thing either. But naming your abuser can help, telling your story can help, sharing your pain can help. Thank you Susan for sharing your pain.

          Candace February 25, 2018 at 6:14 pm #

          I hope instead you would pray that someday HE would beg her forgiveness. Not that it’s her responsibility to do so. It’s on him

          Pat Elliott February 26, 2018 at 3:31 am #

          I don’t think ‘forgiveness’ is appropriate here.

      Jess February 24, 2018 at 8:08 pm #

      It takes great courage to break the silence and I am sure you will help many to stand up and name their abuser to stop them. Thank you.
      May the Creator wrap loving strength around you.

      Jess February 24, 2018 at 8:08 pm #

      It takes great courage to break the silence and I am sure you will help many to stand up and name their abuser to stop them. Thank you.
      May the Creator wrap loving strength around you.

      Linda Mishimagi February 25, 2018 at 6:09 pm #

      Now isn’t that true. No deed, bad or good, goes unseen.

      Wanda Boomhower March 3, 2018 at 2:01 pm #

      Eternal death is the ultimate punishment—gone forever… good

      Hope Curley March 4, 2018 at 7:42 am #

      I also was abused by him