'He was my only supporter': Mother testifies at inquest into Nunavut RCMP shooting

When he was about eight years old, Charles Qirngnirq took an interest in fixing things like snowmobiles and enjoyed hunting around his Nunavut community — skills he learned from his grandfather.

When he grew up, Leona Qirngnirq said, her son became the one she leaned on.

"He was my only supporter. He was my hunter. He was my mechanic," she told the first day of a coroner's inquest Monday.

"Losing a child after … raising them, it's really difficult," she said through tears, sometimes covering her face with a tissue.

Five years ago, Charles Qirngnirq, 21, was shot and killed by an RCMP office outside the airport in the remote Nunavut hamlet of Gjoa Haven.

The inquest into his death is being held this week to determine where, when and how he died and to make recommendations to prevent similar deaths.

A six-person jury, coroner's officer and counsel gathered in a gymnasium-like room in Gjoa Haven's community hall, where an Inukshuk figure made of black panels scales a back wall. The roar of all-terrain vehicles often made it difficult to hear some of the testimony.


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