Sister of woman found dead in northern Quebec says she was killed by male partner

·3 min read

MONTREAL — The sister of a Quebec woman found dead along with her partner in a remote village in the province's northern Nunavik region last week is calling on victims of domestic abuse to seek help.

Maggie Naluiyuk said Tuesday she believes her younger sister, Kataluk Paningayak-Naluiyuk, 43, was the latest victim of domestic violence in the province. Naluiyuk, 48, a mother of five and the victim of an abusive relationship for 19 years, said she wants to use her sister's tragedy to send a message.

"Now that she's gone, we can't do anything, but we can try to help others to survive," Naluiyuk said in an interview.

Quebec provincial police said Monday they were waiting for results of autopsies on two people after their bodies were found March 25 in a home in Ivujivik, a fly-in community of about 400 people on the very northern tip of Quebec.

Police have identified the two deceased as Paningayak-Naluiyuk and her partner, Peter Ainalik, 44.

Provincial police spokeswoman Nancy Fournier said officers with the force's homicide squad were dispatched to the village. She said investigators are not seeking a suspect, and that they should be able to say more once autopsies are conducted, which is expected to happen this week.

She said provincial police, working with officers from the Kativik Regional Police Force, have not ruled out any theory about what happened, including a murder-suicide. If confirmed, Paningayak-Naluiyuk would be the eighth woman in Quebec to be murdered by a partner since the start of the year.

A mother of six girls and a grandmother of two, Paningayak-Naluiyuk had been in a relationship with Ainalik that involved abuse, Naluiyuk said. She said on at least two occasions, her sister had to be transported to Montreal from the Inuit community for treatment. In one case, Naluiyuk said her sister suffered broken ribs.

"We tried to tell her she needs to leave him before he kills her," Naluiyuk said, adding that her sister dismissed the concerns.

"Now she's dead today and we can't do nothing about it, but what we can do is to have a voice to the women out there that need help, that are going through violent relationship … that there's a solution for every one of them," Naluiyuk said.

She said men must seek counselling or other help and she urged women to seek out resources available to help them leave abusive relationships. Naluiyuk said penalties for people convicted of conjugal violence should be harsher.

"All you gotta do is seek help, and put things to an end that are not good in your life," Naluiyuk said. "I've been there, I can understand, I was there for 19 years."

Advocates for victims of domestic violence have raised concerns about the rising number of women who have been killed by their partners this year in Quebec.

In an interview with French-language news channel Noovo broadcast on Monday, Premier Francois Legault said in the coming weeks, all women fearing for their safety will have a place to seek shelter. He said a telephone line will also be put in place to allow people to report suspected cases of domestic abuse.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2021.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press