Healing takes time
Community gathering hoped to help Kugluktuk

by Derek Neary
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 06/98) - Following a triple-murder suicide last week, the people of Kugluktuk are trying to piece their community together again.

"It's going to take a while, especially for the families, to get back to normal," said lifelong resident Annie Kellogok.

Steven Ayalik, 31, shot three of his four children and then committed suicide March 26, after a night of drinking. Ayalik's eight-year-old son, Mark, escaped unharmed and has now been reunited with his mother, who was en route to the hamlet when the incident occurred.

The hamlet council tried to nurture the healing process by organizing a community gathering all day Saturday. A breakfast, entertainment, a potluck dinner and square dance were planned.

"It's kind of just to get the community back together after the incident," said Dave White, the senior administrative officer.

Kellogok knew the family and said the incident has been very troubling for the boys' mother.

"It kept coming into my mind," she said. "I have a child myself and he's about the age of one of the younger (victims). It was a shock. I kept thinking of the little boy and what he went through."

Many people in the community have turned to their relatives for support, Kellogok added.

There were two other suicides in November and another murder-suicide 18 months ago.

A pair of social workers and a nurse from Cambridge Bay were flown in to provide assistance in the grieving community last week.

Kellogok said there are a number of support services in the area but the real issue is lack of trust in those trying to help.

"I myself am kind of hesitant. Sometimes that information tends to leak out and sooner or later ... everybody starts to find out," she explained. "Then you become the problem. Everybody starts to blame you."

White acknowledged that trust seems to be a concern but an unfounded one.

"I know that any of the GNWT social services are very strict about confidentiality. We do the same with our alcohol and drug councillors -- they're well-schooled in confidentiality," he said.

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