R v Angnatuk, 2020 QCCS 3650

The Court sentenced an Inuk man to life imprisonment and ordered him ineligible for parole for 18 years for the second-degree murder of his Inuk partner. His Gladue factors were considered in setting the period of ineligibility for parole but they were the only mitigating factor.

Indigenous Law Centre
Indigenous CaseWatch Blog

Jimmy Angnatuk, was found guilty by jury of the second degree murder of Elisabeth Novalinga. By law, Mr. Angnatuk faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. Access to the appropriate tools and programs to address his issues is paramount, and that Mr. Angnatuk will take steps towards rehabilitation. Domestic violence, in an Indigenous context or not, is a scourge on society. Mr. Angnatuk is to be sentenced to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for 18 years.

Mr. Angnatuk and Ms. Novalinga lived in Kuujjuarapik and were in a relationship. On the day of her murder, both consumed alcohol and had an argument. Later that evening, the police received an emergency call. They arrived at the house shortly after, where the accused remained on the premises, and told the officers that he had killed Ms. Novalinga. She was found deceased with multiple blunt force injuries and knife wounds on her body.

Ms. Novalinga’s two children are now left without a mother. Mr. Angnatuk murdered Ms. Novalinga while he was bound by an undertaking, and he has a pending case of assault causing bodily harm. He has a history of abuse against his partners and has multiple prior convictions for violent offences against his partners but also against strangers. He is impulsive and extremely dangerous, has not shown a real possibility of rehabilitation, and has been in and out of prison without it being a deterrent.

Fixing an extended period of parole ineligibility is a very fact-sensitive process (R v Shropshire, [1995] 4 SCR 227). Sentencing is an individualized process. The sanction must be adapted to the nature of the offence and the situation of the offender (R v Nasogaluak, [2010] 1 SCR 206). The Court has to weigh the objectives listed in s 718 of the Criminal Code and against the facts and the relevant aggravating or mitigating factors, consider the ranges of sentences for similar circumstances, as well as the needs of the community in which the offence occurred.

Although the Court did not have a contemporary pre-sentence report that could help assess his risk of reoffending, Mr. Angnatuk has, by his own admission, serious anger and emotional issues that have been left largely unaddressed over the years. Mr. Angnatuk mentioned to his Gladue Report Writer that he is aware that he has a lot of anger inside, and that he understands that he needs help with his feelings and his anger in order not to reoffend. He shows an interest for programs or counselling sessions tailored to Inuit or that are culturally relevant and in his own language or that offer traditional activities.

Ms. Novalinga was, as Mr. Angnatuk is, Inuk, and suffered a horrible fate at the hands of her partner, who prevented her from getting help in extricating herself from a violent situation because he did not want to go to jail. The aggravating factors are numerous in the present case. The Court also has to take into account Gladue factors in determining Mr. Angnatuk’s sentence. The Court analyzed the factors documented in the Gladue Report that pertain to Mr. Angnatuk, his family, the community of Kuujjuaq, and the lasting impact of assimilation policies on Inuit People. However, were it not for these elements, the Court would have found no substantive mitigating factor in Mr. Angnatuk’s favour.

R v Abram, 2019 ONSC 3383

Application granted. The Applicant is entitled to a hearing before a jury to request that his parole ineligibility period be reduced.

Native Law Centre
Case Watch Blog

The Applicant was convicted of the first-degree murder of his 17-month-old stepson in 2005. He received the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment with no parole eligibility for 25 years. Having served more than 15 years of his sentence, the Applicant applied for a faint hope hearing where it will be asked that his parole ineligibility period be reduced. S 745.61 of the Criminal Code requires that such applications be screened for merit before a jury hearing is granted.

The primary purpose of the s 745 hearing is to call attention to changes which have occurred in the applicant’s situation that might justify imposing a less harsh penalty upon the applicant (R v Swietlinksi, [1994] 3 SCR 481). The Applicant was given the benefit of the lower screening standard, meaning, whether there is a “reasonable prospect of success” due to the uncertainty in the law, as well as this being the standard imposed at the time the offence was committed. If success falls within a range of reasonable outcomes, it qualifies as a reasonable prospect of success. Further, Gladue bears on whether the Applicant should have the right to make an application before a jury which applies in this case.

This Court considered victim impact statements, the community impact, the Applicant’s character and conduct in the institution, as well as his remorse/acceptance of responsibility. Many correctional records reported that the Applicant had a deep understanding of what he did, and a compelling need to make amends by becoming a better person. His community was eager to have him return. The most striking features of this case is the level of unqualified support offered by correctional officials towards the Applicant.

The Crown attempted to argue that the Applicant failed to accept full responsibility because he was unwilling to enrol in treatment programs aimed at sex offenders. The Court stated that the absence of sexual motivation did not affect the characterization of the crime but bears on whether the Applicant requires treatment as a sex offender. Because professionals within the correctional system had concluded there is no need for such treatment, the Applicant cannot be faulted for abiding by the recommendations of institutional officials. The Crown also attempted to argue a comment made in a psychological assessment 12 years ago showed his lack of remorse. The comments made then do not reflect the applicant’s current conceptualization of his crime. The prospect of success is therefore reasonable when one considers the Applicant’s present character, institutional history, adherence to Indigenous traditions, and his ongoing commitment to personal growth.