Vandals wreak havoc in western Nunavut town
Kugluktuk co-op suffers food spoilage, $50,000 to $100,000 in damages, wrecked satellite internet dishes
There’s a big problem in Kugluktuk that the RCMP said Sept. 13 they have decided not to comment on: out-of-control youth vandalism, which since the beginning of September has led to major upheavals and financial losses for the local co-operative store and other businesses in this western Nunavut community.
When contacted by Nunatsiaq News on Sept. 4 for comment on vandalism to the co-op store over the Labour Day weekend, a member of the RCMP in Kugluktuk acknowledged the youth vandalism problem, but referred a reporter to V Division in Iqaluit.
A media spokesperson there promised details on the various incidents, but then never provided them. On Sept. 13, a second media spokesperson said a decision had been made not to provide any comment.
But this is what has many in this community of 1,400 upset: since Labour Day weekend, vandals running amok in the early morning hours have caused more that $50,000 worth of damage — and some say up to $100,000 — to the Kugluktuk co-op and its surrounding warehouses.
This includes damage to a main power line fuse breaker and a rooftop condenser motor, which, according to a community source, led to a power failure that caused “massive amounts of food spoilage” inside the store.
At the same time, the co-op’s warehouse doors were pulled from their metal frame and a fire was started inside a metal sealift container.
That’s not all: both the post office and co-op store’s satellite internet dishes were pulled apart twice in one week. This caused automatic teller machine outages and led to work stoppages.
And last week, the co-op’s main warehouse was broken into on two separate occasions.
“Everything happening between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.,” said a resident who complained that six RCMP and three bylaw officers appear unable to stop the damage from taking place, because police and bylaw officers both stop patrolling at 3 a.m.
This isn’t the first time that youth vandalism has been a problem in Kugluktuk, which has recorded the highest level of youth crime in Nunavut — although some allege the vandals who recently caused the disastrous power failure at the co-op store are not original residents of the community.
The gang’s young members, aged 12 to 16, trashed the school’s classrooms, kitchen and library, surfed porn sites on the school’s computers and ate food reserved for the school’s breakfast program and other purposes.
And the co-op has also been a target in the past. In 2004, the co-op’s warehouse was broken into on three different occasions by gangs of vandals, including children as young as eight, as well as teenagers and adults.
More recently, youth in Kugluktuk have turned to gas sniffing, with one young boy dying as a result of sniffing in 2012.
That prompted a community-wide education and prevention campaign, which included the distribution of locked storage units for gas and propane.