Elisapee Nungusuituq weeps and wails at the back of the room.
It’s been 10 days since her partner, 31-year-old Kenneth Ammklak, died in what police are now calling a homicide.
On the evening of May 13 Ammaklak was drinking at his new apartment in Ottawa’s east end with Nungusuituq and their friend Martin Frampton, Nungusuituq recalled in an interview with APTN News earlier this week.
On Friday Ottawa police announced they had arrested and charged Frampton with first degree murder.
Nungusuituq said the three were drinking when she and Ammaklak started arguing.
“He told me to pack my stuff and go. He said, ‘Don’t come back,’ and I told him, ‘I won’t,’” Nungusuituq recalled.
She doesn’t recall what the two were fighting about. All Nungusuituq remembers is packing her bag and spending the night on the streets, where the couple had met just two months earlier.
When she left the apartment building in Ottawa’s east end, Nungusuituq said Ammaklak and Frampton were the only two people remaining in the 21st floor flat.
Frampton also lived on the streets, but Nungusuituq said Ammaklak had been giving his friend shelter at the new apartment, which Ammaklak moved into days before the incident.
A number of sources who knew Ammaklak told APTN he had acquired the apartment through a program that helps Ottawa’s homeless get off the streets.
Kenneth Ammaklak and Elisapee Nungusuituq in a recent photo. Facebook.
The following morning, Nungusuituq returned to the apartment with the spare key Ammaklak had given her.
But two cops stopped her from entering and interrogated her, she recalled.
“They were looking at my hands for some reason. And I’m like, ‘Is he ok? Did he die?’ And they told me, ‘Yes.’”
Police were called to the Donald Street building in Ottawa’s Vanier neighbourhood, where they found Ammaklak’s body behind a dumpster.
They initially called the death “suspicious” and were scant on details.
A number of sources who knew Ammaklak told APTN they heard the man had been stabbed to death.
A spokesperson for Ottawa Paramedics Services confirmed last week that he “died of traumatic injuries,” and that his death “was obvious and he was pronounced dead on scene.”
Other sources on the streets told APTN they heard Ammaklak had been thrown off his 21st floor balcony.
APTN confirmed that Ammaklak’s balcony was 21 stories directly above the spot where a source who lives in the building said the body was found.
The neighbour, who asked not to be named, said they heard yelling the night Ammaklak died.
But they said there’s a lot of partying in the building so weren’t certain the noise was coming from Ammaklak’s apartment.
Martin Frampton, 27, has been charged with first degree murder in the death of Kenneth Ammaklak. Facebook.
The next morning the neighbour said they looked down from their balcony and saw “a large red patch” where they believe Ammaklak’s body had landed.
Ottawa police arrested Frampton on the evening of May 23, according to a statement released the next day. On May 24, the 27-year-old Inuk was charged with first degree murder and remanded into custody.
“Always, always smiling. Always.”
Nungusuituq is crying at the back of the room, calling out, “My Kenny!”
The young woman, who is originally from Cape Dorset, Nunavut, joined about 50 others at Centre 454, an Anglican Church-run drop-in centre for Ottawa’s homeless population, to remember and mourn their friend’s death.
Ammaklak spent a lot of time at the centre, and even volunteered there, according to several at the memorial service.
“I remember coming here my first day…and what Kenny really hit me with was his smile,” one of the centre’s clients recalled. “Even today, that’s all I put in my head is his smile.”
A 454 worker shared her memories with those gathered for the service.
“I know he had a hard life, but he was always, always smiling,” said Karine Valade. “Always.”
Clients and staff of Centre 454 in Ottawa held a memorial service for Kenneth Ammaklak May 24. Justin Brake/APTN.
“You wouldn’t know if something devastating was going on in his life, because he’d be too preoccupied trying to make you laugh,” Liz De Melo, a program coordinator at the centre, told APTN.
De Melo said Ammaklak liked to tap people on the shoulder opposite of where he was standing, just to make them look. And then he’d laugh, she said.
“Even on Monday, he was leaving when I walked in,” Rosa Awad recalled of the day Ammaklak died. “And he turned around and chased me back in just so he could tap me on the shoulder and go, ‘Hi Rosa.’ And then he took off again.”
That was the last time Awad saw Ammaklak.
The death has shocked many in Ottawa’s homeless community.
Nungusuituq said she saw Frampton, who also goes by his biological family name Poisey, at an Ottawa shelter a few days after Ammaklak’s death.
“What the f—k happened to him?!” she recalled asking Frampton, breaking into tears.
“And he said, ‘I don’t know.’ And then I just stopped talking to him right away,” she recalled, explaining Frampton could not look her in the eye that day.
Asked if she thought Frampton could have killed her boyfriend, Nungusuituq said she didn’t know. “But I left them and it was just the two of them. I don’t know. I don’t know,” she said behind a stream of tears.
Nungusuituq said Frampton had been hanging out with her and Ammaklak for about a month or so, “ever since he got out of jail,” she said. Still, she “barely knew him.”
She doesn’t know why Frampton was in jail.
Several sources on the streets told APTN Frampton, who they knew as “Martin Poisey,” was from Baffin Island but was adopted out to a non-Indigenous family outside of Nunavut.
Nungusuituq said despite their arguing, Ammaklak was a “very caring and loving” person.
“I think he loved me the most,” she said.