October 4, 2022

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‘Shy, sensible and vibrant’ Savanna Pikuyak mourned at candlelight vigil

‘Shy, sensible and vibrant’ Savanna Pikuyak mourned at candlelight vigil

Choking again tears, neighbours, family and friends of 22-year outdated Savanna Pikuyak prayed collectively in entrance of the house the place she was discovered useless this weekend, simply days after she had moved to Ottawa. 

Mahasi Nateela, a pal of Pikuyak’s, arrived with flowers in hand, and laid them down among the many candles and playing cards left in entrance of the home. Nateela remembered assembly Pikuyak in 2016 on the Northern Youth Overseas program they each participated in.

“She was very sensible and vibrant. She was shy however sarcastic,” stated Nateela. “She was an ideal particular person.” 

Pikuyak was a younger Inuk girl who left her hometown of Sanirajak, Nvt., to pursue her dream of changing into a nurse by learning at Algonquin School. 

Woman holds bubble tea drink up, smiling.
Savanna Pikuyak, a younger Inuk girl from Nunavut, had moved to Ottawa on Thursday to start out a program at Algonquin School. (Submitted by Sheba Pikuyak)

That dream was dashed on Sunday morning, when police responded to a 911 name {that a} girl had been significantly stabbed at 34 Woodvale Inexperienced and a person with a knife was nonetheless contained in the two-storey rowhome in southwest Ottawa. 

Pikuyak was discovered useless from her accidents, and police suspect was additionally sexually assaulted, CBC Information has discovered.

Ottawa police have charged 33-year-old Nikolas Ibey with second-degree homicide after he allegedly known as police and turned himself in. They arrested him on the residence the place Pikuyak was discovered on Sunday.

In line with sources, Ibey was her roommate and the 2 had met solely just lately by way of a Fb rental commercial he had posted for a room within the residence.

Loss devastating for Inuit group

Pikuyak, an lively member of her group with an ideal curiosity in studying about Inuit tradition, attended a College students on Ice instructional program for youth in Greenland, in addition to Nunavut Sivuniksavut, a post-secondary schooling program in Ottawa particularly for Inuit youth.

In a Fb publish, Nunavut Sivuniksavut stated it was deeply saddened by Pikuyak’s loss of life.

“Though she was small in stature, Savanna was a drive to be reckoned with,” the publish learn. 

Aliqa Illauq, a instructor at Nunavut Sivuniksavut who attended the vigil, stated Pikuyak’s loss has been devastating for the group. 

“When certainly one of us will get damage, all of us get damage,” she stated. 

Aliqa Illauq is a instructor at Nunavut Sivuniksavut who attended the vigil sporting a pink handprint on her face in honour of lacking and murdered Indigenous girls like Pikuyak. (Avanthika Anand/CBC)

“This was an absolute tragedy, and an ideal reminder of the oppression and the continued challenges we as Inuit undergo simply to additional our schooling,” Illauq stated, including Inuit must journey 1000’s of miles and spend some huge cash to pursue additional education. 

She added that the housing disaster in Ottawa has disproportionately affected Inuk college students who want to hunt cheaper housing, placing their security in danger. 

“There are such a lot of Inuit equivalent to Savanna,” she stated. 

Pikuyak had rented the $750-room Ibey marketed on Fb, which famous the house’s “shut proximity to Algonquin School” as a promoting level. 

“This might have been me, this might have been anyone that I do know,” stated Illauq. 

Illauq stated that whereas she would not know if the homicide was racially motivated, Pikuyak’s loss of life is a sore reminder of the significance of elevating consciousness about lacking and murdered Indigenous girls.

“As an Indigenous girl, however extra particularly as an Inuk girl, my probabilities of surviving on this nation lessened the second I took my first breath,” she stated. “We’d like to ensure this does not proceed so our kids have extra of an opportunity than we do.”

That is why Illauq wore a pink handprint throughout her face to the vigil.

“I put on this not just for Savanna now … I put on [it] to point out that we are going to not be quiet anymore. We aren’t going to take a seat in a nook and be good little Eskimos the place our voices aren’t going to be heard.”

Justice for Savanna

In a press release launched Sept. 13, Algonquin School stated the school group can be mourning Pikuyak’s loss. 

First-year Algonquin School pupil Hayley Totalik additionally attended the vigil to honour her pal, who she had been wanting ahead to hanging out with for the primary time in years. The 2 had been purported to go to highschool collectively. 

“I really feel heartbroken but livid,” she stated. 

Hayley Totalik, left, and Mahasi Nateela had been buddies of Savanna Pikuyak. (Avanthika Anand/CBC)

“There’s simply too many Indigenous girls taken from us, from our households, from our communities.”

A pink costume now hangs in entrance of the house in honour of lacking and murdered Indigenous girls, together with an orange T-shirt that reads #JusticeForSavanna. 

Family members positioned candles on the residence throughout the vigil, as many wept and hugged, and others laughed and instructed tales of the younger girl they cherished. 

Joan Deib, a pal of Pikuyak’s, organized the vigil. The 2 grew to become shut when Pikuyak travelled to Dawson Creek to offer delivery to her son Kalluk in August 2020. Deib gave delivery on the identical time, and remembered how they helped one another by way of postpartum despair. 

“She was form. She cared so deeply,” Deib stated. “That is how I am going to keep in mind her on a regular basis.”

Deib stated she organized the vigil to recollect and honour her pal, but additionally present assist — albeit from a distance — for her household in Nunavut.

“She’ll by no means go away our hearts and minds. We’re going to be sure there’s justice for her, no matter [form] that takes,” she stated.