Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit July 18, 2017 - 4:45 pm

Grieving family suffers theft of carvings from Nunavut home

Police charge Christine Ammaq, 53, with theft at John Manning residence

BETH BROWN
The late John Manning shows a catch from one of his favourite pastimes. The 57-year-old man died July 9 from injuries he suffered during a July 6 explosion outside his Iqaluit residence. A memorial is being held at Iqaluit's Anglican Church July 21. (PHOTOS COURTESY ANGELA CHISLETT)
The late John Manning shows a catch from one of his favourite pastimes. The 57-year-old man died July 9 from injuries he suffered during a July 6 explosion outside his Iqaluit residence. A memorial is being held at Iqaluit's Anglican Church July 21. (PHOTOS COURTESY ANGELA CHISLETT)
RCMP are investigating a break-in and theft that took place at an Iqaluit home while the family was in Ottawa at the bedside of long-time Iqaluit resident John Manning who was injured in a boat explosion July 6. Manning died three days later. Katie Chislett Manning is pictured here with her late father.
RCMP are investigating a break-in and theft that took place at an Iqaluit home while the family was in Ottawa at the bedside of long-time Iqaluit resident John Manning who was injured in a boat explosion July 6. Manning died three days later. Katie Chislett Manning is pictured here with her late father.

(Updated, July 18, 4:45 p.m).

Of all the carvings John Manning bought during his 25 years in Iqaluit, it was a large walrus sculpture that his wife and daughter valued most—it had been a Christmas gift from John to them.

That walrus, and at least 25 other carvings, were stolen from the family residence while the two women were out of town after Manning was injured in a boat explosion outside the family home in Iqaluit’s Lower Base area on July 6.

The 57-year-old Newfoundlander later died of his injuries in an Ottawa hospital on Nunavut Day, July 9.

It seems doubly tragic for a family to suffer both the loss of life and then a break-in and theft. But police seem to have made progress on the case.

Nunavut RCMP confirmed a break and enter occurred at the residence sometime between July 7 and July 14, though the family said they are fairly sure it took place July 8.

Christine Ammaq, 53, has now been charged with break and enter and with theft, the RCMP’s Sgt. David Lawson told Nunatsiaq News July 18. Ammaq has been released on conditions and is scheduled to appear in court in Iqaluit on Aug. 24.

Manning’s wife, Geneva Chislett, said she didn’t notice the break-in right away.

“I was coming up the steps and saw the tusk of the big walrus that we have sitting on the steps. I thought to myself, ‘That’s strange, this is the tusk from the walrus upstairs,” she said.

None of the pieces have been located. Anyone who thinks they may have encountered one of the stolen carvings is asked to contact the RCMP.

“It was upsetting to know that someone would come in our home when we are obviously gone for a tragedy and family emergency,” said Chislett. “But it doesn’t reflect on the community as a whole.”

The community of Iqaluit, in fact, has rallied behind the grieving families.

Following the explosion—which also killed Noel Priddle and injured another man—the Manning and Chislett families have seen an outpouring of kindness and goodwill from local residents.

According to the friends and family members who spoke with Nunatsiaq News July 17, that support reflects the way Manning supported his community.

“Often I’d open the door and there would be someone there standing at the door with a char in their hand, or some seal, and say, ‘This is for John,’” said Chislett.

A carpenter by trade, Manning owned a construction company in Iqaluit and was known to lend his skills where they were needed. The country food deliveries were often in-kind payment for help Manning had given, she said.

“He was kind to a fault,” said Steve Pinksen, a friend who will be speaking at an upcoming memorial for Manning. “John would do a favour for anybody—prince or pauper, John had time for them.”

Manning was also known to fill up the barbeque with hot dogs and pass them out to children in the neighborhood.

“He loved kids,” said long-time friend and fellow Newfoundlander Rick Smith. Though, “the apple of his eye was his daughter Katie,” said Smith. “He couldn’t do enough for Katie.”

Manning’s company, KCM Construction Ltd. was, in fact, named for his daughter: Katie Chislett Manning.

When he wasn’t fixing houses or hosting a lobster dinner, Manning spent his time outside, fishing or snowmobiling. He was a member of the Elks Lodge and Iqaluit Search and Rescue. 

“He always had something on the go, and he loved telling stories,” said Smith.

The shed behind Manning’s home was where many of those stories unfolded, especially in winter when the stove was lit and friends would gather for a couple smokes and a good yarn, said Smith.

Iqaluit mayor Madeleine Redfern recently extended sympathies on behalf of the city.

“As a long-time resident, John was a valued member of the community and a respected business person, who held a special place in the hearts of all those who knew him. His readiness to help anyone in need endeared him to all Iqalummiut. His passing is a tremendous loss to his family, his friends and our community.”

A memorial will take place for John Manning at the Anglican Church in Iqaluit July 21 at 1:30 p.m. The memorial is being presided over by a Catholic deacon. Donations can be made on Manning’s behalf to the Iqaluit Food Bank.

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