An Ulukhaktok, N.W.T. woman's debts to the community's Hunters and Trappers Committee is being forgiven.
In 2014, Lillian Kanayok was sentenced to a two-year community sentence for stealing $60,000 from the Committee in 2012 and 2013 and spending the money on online gambling.
Since serving her sentence, Kanayok has been making repayment instalments of $50 to $200 a month. As of March 2022, the remaining balance for Kanayok to pay was $49,625.54.
Appearing by telephone in the NWT Supreme court Monday afternoon, Committee president Pat Klengenberg told Justice Shannon Smallwood he wanted the remaining balance to be waived.
"We want Lillian to be able to get work and support her family without having to worry about what she owes," he said.
Smallwood clarified that the restitution order allows the committee to enforce Kanayok's payments civilly if they choose but that she doesn't have the authority to waive the fees.
"If you wish to not enforce it, you simply don't take any further steps," she said.
'We all make mistakes,' Committee president says
Kanayok asked to take a moment to respond before the court adjourned.
"I'm sitting here humbly and I want to say thank you Pat and thank you to the board," she said.
She described having gone through "a hard time," while working for the Ulukhaktok Hunters and Trappers Committee and reliving trauma of former sexual abuse she had faced in high school.
While "it's no excuse," she told the court, "gambling was my escape."
Kanayok said the money would help her support her son after her partner died in an accident on the land.
"Don't feel bad about what you did in the past. We all make mistakes and I'm so sorry to hear about your abuse in the past," Klengenberg said, responding to Kanayok.
"Just know that the Hunters and Trappers Committee supports you and your family and we want the best for you."