File Number: 104200116
Iqaluit, Nunavut: On May 26, 1986, Mary Ann Birmingham, 15, died at the hands of an unknown assailant who stabbed and mutilated her inside her family's housing unit near the beach.
She's one of the nearly 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls whose deaths and unexplained disappearances have provoked a Canada-wide demand for the national MMIW inquiry that the federal government is now preparing for.
Sevigny had flown back that day from Montreal, where her mother, Sarah Birmingham, had taken her little brother, the late Lyta Birmingham, to be treated for leukemia.
"I know now that I was in shock. But the RCMP officer I talked to at the station was very good at helping me out of it and getting me to talk," said Barbara Sevigny, who later became a trauma and grief counselor.
Police, however, were not able to solve the crime. Through the spring and summer of 1986, many Iqaluit residents were haunted by the knowledge that a brutal killer was likely still at large.
The late Fred Coman and the late Lionel Jones, along with other benefactors, put a up a $10,000 reward for information that could solve Mary Ann's murder.
For many months, Nunatsiaq News donated space every week to advertise the reward, but police could not find enough evidence to identify the killer and lay a charge.
In the fall of 1986, an Iqaluit man named Jopie Atsiqtaq murdered Pootoogoo Eyesiak, 21, and his mother, Oolayou Eyesiak, 51, using a kitchen knife.
Police arrested and charged him the next morning. Because the apparent facts were so similar, many Iqaluit residents believed Atsiqtaq was responsible also for the death of Mary Ann Birmingham.
It was Mary Ann's sister, Barbara Sevigny, now a counsellor with the Tungasuvvingat Inuit organization in Ottawa, who found Mary Ann Birmingham's body, some days after the teens's death.
For that reason, Justice David Marshall of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories decided that, to give Atsiqtaq a fair trial, a 12-person jury be chosen in Rankin Inlet and flown to Iqaluit.
In early 1988, that jury found Atsiqtaq guilty on two counts of second degree murder.
Marshall sentenced him to life in prison, with no eligibility for parole for 10 years. Atsiqtaq has never received parole and still serves out his sentence at a federal penitentiary.
In a letter to Nunatsiaq News that was never published, but shared with the court and admitted as evidence at trial, Atsiqtaq apologized for killing the mother and son, but emphatically denied any responsibility for Mary Ann's death.
Police later charged him with that crime, but after a preliminary inquiry, a territorial court judge found insufficient evidence to send him to trial.
No other arrests have occurred or suspects named in Mary's murder. Her older sister is active in the MMIW community and assists other families going through a similar process with their own missing or murdered family members. May Mary rest in presence and may her family and community receive justice.
Anyone with information about Birmingham's death can call the RCMP's tip line toll free at 1-844-370-7729, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
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File Number: 104200132
Resolute Bay, Nunavut: Tracy Kalluk's voice shakes when asked what she misses most about her mother, Tabitha Kalluk, who was found dead in her home with battery acid and gas-line antifreeze in her blood on Christmas Day 2002 in Resolute Bay, Nunavut."Her hugs," Kalluk said. "Her voice."
RCMP started a murder investigation into the death of the 38-year-old Inuk mother of six, but it didn't garner enough evidence to prove as a homicide, even with the autopsy finding battery acid and antifreeze in her blood.Tracy Kalluk, who is Tabitha's eldest daughter, said she doesn't know what happened to her mother, but she believes police tried to be diligent in their handling of the case.
"I understand they did what they could do and what they have to do with their protocols," Kalluk said.
"The only part that I wasn't satisfied with was them not finding out who murdered my mom."
RCMP from the Resolute Bay detachment, and then from the major crimes unit based in Iqaluit, found the death suspicious, but couldn't find enough evidence to determine it was homicide.
"That's their indication, that she was murdered," Tracy said of the autopsy report. "But then other people were kind of skeptical and still kind of tried to say that she committed suicide."
Nunavut RCMP say the case is not closed, but it remains at a standstill. There are no suspects at this time.
"It could be a medical, it could be suspicious. It's very borderline," said Sgt. Yvonne Niego of the RCMP's "V" Division.
"Unless there's further information that can be followed up on, it's at a standstill."
The last time Tracy Kalluk saw her mother, whom she remembers as a creative cook, was shortly after her 20th birthday on Christmas Eve.
The family didn't get to spend Christmas morning together, and Kalluk said she lives without closure on what happened the night her mother died.But she believes her mother did not make the choice to die.
"I don't think she did. My mom was the type of person that was kind of scared of death," Tracy said. "She tried to keep herself safe, always be on the safe side."
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