Nunavut Arctic College mourns the loss of a student
Aala Surusimituq Michael, 23, an office administration student, died March 30 in Kimmirut
Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit was a somber place April 2, says the college’s acting dean, Louise Flaherty.
Students were shocked and grief-stricken by the violent death of their fellow student, a 23-year-old Kimmirut woman, over the Easter weekend.
She has been identified by her many friends as Aala Surusimituq Michael. Michael, who graduated from Qaqqalik high school in Kimmirut, was enrolled at the college’s office administration program in Iqaluit.
“She was a very sweet young lady, who is well-connected,” said Flaherty, who did not name the student, although Michael’s death is widely mourned in Iqaluit by her teammates on the local volleyball team.
Michael had travelled to Kimmirut over the Easter weekend for a visit home.
RCMP investigators have classified her death and the death of a man, 27, and their son, 27 months, as “murder.”
But police say they are not seeking any suspects of interest in connection with their deaths.
Firearms were involved, said police, but they have refused to give more details, or confirm if one of the dead adults may have died by suicide, until after autopsy reports on the three deceased are complete.
But one thing is certain: the well-liked student from Kimmirut will be missed at the college, where everyone knows each other well because of the small numbers of students enrolled in programs.
When tragedies take place among the college’s students, everyone feels it, Flaherty said.
“We know all of our students,” she said. “We will overcome this, but these [losses] are very difficult to overcome.”
To her, the loss of any student is “unfathomable,” but it’s something that Nunavut Arctic College has dealt with before: two students died during the February 2012 Creekside Village fire in Iqaluit.
The young woman, who died in Kimmirut, “had friends in many places” through her involvement in the Arctic Winter Games, Flaherty added.
“She was very personable,” said Flaherty, who met with students April 2 to see how they were coping.
And Flaherty found “everybody is in shock.”
“It was just too surreal,” she said. “Of course, there were tears. There are no words to describe the kind of comfort we want to provide the family.”
Before moving ahead with any kind of memorial or vigil, the college will first talk to Michael’s family.
“I’m going to base it on the family’s decision,” Flaherty said.
Counselling services continue to be available to students and staff at the college.
If students wish to speak with an Inuktitut-speaking counsellor, they will be directed to an elder, Flaherty said.