Nunavik community outraged over shack demolition
Shack in Quaqtaq was home to a man evicted earlier this year from social housing
People in the Ungava Bay community of Quaqtaq want answers about why the makeshift home of a local man was destroyed over the weekend by staff from the Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau, which oversees social housing in Nunavik.
The 12-foot by 16-foot shack belonged to a local man who had been evicted from his social housing unit earlier this year, say people in the community of 400.
The man moved into the shack after his eviction. But he was away in Montreal for cancer treatment over the weekend when KMHB staff and a lawyer flew into the community Sept. 22, said Johnny Oovaut, Quaqtaq’s municipal manager.
“They took power tools and dismantled it,” Oovaut said. “People are upset — we don’t have many places to put people when they get evicted.”
Oovaut said the KMHB workers collapsed the walls of the structure, but left the intact roof and debris at the site.
Afterwards, the brother of the evicted tenant rushed to salvage what he could of his brother’s belongings, with the help of others. They stacked up furniture and a mattress in the back of pick-up trucks.
“This made us very angry, because the brother only has one arm, and this man has cancer. We find that very heartless,” Oovaut said. “There must be a better way.”
The man was one of two local people evicted from their homes in Quaqtaq over the summer, Oovaut said.
It’s not clear how much the tenant owed to the KMHB, but the housing board has said it tries to avoid evicting tenants unless the tenants refuse any arrangements for repayment of arrears.
“The issue here is that it was a private shack, and it was destroyed,” Oovaut said. “Is it a criminal act? We’re not sure what to do.”
Oovaut said people in the community hope to have their questions answered. And now that the shack has been torn down, Quaqtammiut want the housing bureau to clean up the debris on the site.
Photos of the demolished shack posted to a Nunavik Facebook news group drew anger from people across Nunavik, who echoed Oovaut’s comments.
In a Facebook post, KMHB chairperson Michael Cameron of Salluit said he was not made aware of the demolition, but promised to provide some answers once he has some.