An Igloolik man who killed his 17-year-old girlfriend in 2018 told an Iqaluit courtroom on Friday that he was sorry for what he had done.
Jerry Ulayuruluk, who has been in custody since the killing, was found guilty of second-degree murder in the Nunavut Court of Justice earlier this month.
"I am really sorry that you guys are hurt. I pray for you guys," Ulayuruluk said in Inuktitut, speaking directly to the girl's family who flew to Iqaluit for the sentencing.
The victim's name is protected under a publication ban. Her family cried and held each other as the sentence was read.
Justice Christian Lyons, who presided over the trial, gave Ulayuruluk a sentence of 14 years without parole.
This was in agreement with defence lawyer Craig Rogers and Crown prosecutor John MacFarlane, who submitted a joint position on Ulayuruluk's sentence.
"Jerry will have to live the rest of his life knowing that he killed a young woman in a horrific and senseless way. That is in itself a form of life sentence," Lyons said.
Ulayuruluk's sentence includes the time he has already spent in custody, leaving him a bit more than six-and-a-half years to serve in custody before he's eligible for parole.
'Trust ... violated'
MacFarlane also read victim impact statements from the girl's biological and adoptive mothers.
"Our lives have changed dramatically," her adoptive mother said.
"I wanted to help her get home. But my apologies I did not … it was too late," her biological mother said.
The minimum eligibility for parole in cases of second-degree murder is 10 years, but Lyons said several aggravating factors, including the victim's young age, should stretch that to 14 years.
Lyons said the girl was "a young and vulnerable Indigenous woman in a relationship with Jerry that involved a degree of trust that was violated in the most outrageous way, by her murder."
Ulayuruluk stabbed his girlfriend in the chest in the early hours of Oct. 26, 2018 after beating her and two other women, the court heard at trial. She died moments later.
"As has been repeatedly noted by the court, crimes of violence against Inuit women in Nunavut have been disturbingly common for decades," Lyons said.
"The hope is that this [sentence] may contribute to a safer Nunavut in the years ahead."
Lyons also noted that Ulayuruluk phoned the police immediately after he realized what he had done that morning and expressed remorse for his girlfriend's death.
"He expressed remorse that I found was genuine soon after the murder. His words here in court today of apology … were genuine," Lyons said.
The judge also noted that Ulayuruluk's parents are both deceased and his father abused him as a child.
Ulayuruluk will serve the rest of his sentence in a facility somewhere in southern Canada; only those whose sentences are less than two years are eligible to serve their time in Nunavut.