'You didn't win': Singer Susan Aglukark publicly names her abuser at MMIWG hearings

'You didn't win': Singer Susan Aglukark publicly names her abuser at MMIWG hearings

Susan Aglukark ended the Rankin Inlet hearing for the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women by addressing the man she says sexually abused her when she was eight years old.

"Norman Ford," she said on Thursday afternoon.

"You didn't win. Not now, not ever…. Now the community knows what you have done. This room could be filled by your victims alone."

Her testimony in Nunavut, in the final day of the hearings, was the first time the celebrated Inuk singer had revisited the abuse she suffered since she testified in court against the man.

The assault happened in the 1980s, about five years before the young teenager would eventually be asked to testify.

​Aglukark said he lived across the street from her in Rankin Inlet. She said she was babysitting with her sister when Ford called her house, telling her to come over because he had a gift for her parents.

"When I was inside, he reached around, and he locked the door," she said, explaining that the sound of a lock clicking triggers these memories to this day.

She said he led her down a short hallway to a bedroom, telling her the gift was inside. It was there he assaulted her and took pictures of her with a Polaroid camera, Aglukark testified.

"I hate Polaroid cameras," she said.

"You can photograph me with anything else, but not a Polaroid camera."

'Who do you trust in your community?'

Aglukark, who went on to become a Juno-award-winning singer and songwriter, described the myriad of ways the trauma manifests itself in her to this day.

She twitches. She fidgets. She gets migraines from clenching her jaw for long periods of time without realizing it. She always feels like she's being watched. She has to pin the curtains shut in her hotel room, and for a while, she had to put a towel on the floor in front of the door.

"If there is light coming in, he can see me," she said.

Because the circuit-court system only brings proceedings to Rankin Inlet every four to six months, the trial was delayed twice — for almost a year, she said.

All this time, Aglukark continued on with her life in the same, tiny community as Ford.

"Who do you trust in your community?" she asked.

"Who do you talk to? Everybody knows everybody."

Ford received an 18-month sentence for the assaults against her and a number of other victims, and he ended up serving one-third of that, Aglukark testified.

Invest in healing centres

She made it clear she knows Ford has victimized many people in Rankin Inlet, and she told the room she recently found out he is facing new charges.

To finish up her testimony, Aglukark recommended more services for victims in small, Northern communities.

"Where do [victims] go for support?" she asked.

"We need to invest in ... professional help for victims. We need more healing centres — every region should have one."

After she gave her testimony, Aglukark closed out the inquiry's closing ceremony with a rendition of Amazing Grace in Inuktitut.

More from the MMIWG inquiry in Rankin Inlet: