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Iqalummiut protest offender's arrival

Kent Driscoll
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Nov 13/06) - Reaction of Iqaluit residents to the arrival of Jason Hikoalok was swift and decisive.

Less than 24 hours after he hit the ground, there were 600 names - close to 10 per cent of the city's population - on a petition calling for his removal from the community.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Natsiq Kango, left, and Leonie Kilabuk with the petition to have a sex offender removed from Iqaluit. Close to 600 signatures were collected in less than 24 hours. The offender never wanted to go to Iqaluit in the first place, his attorney said. - Kent Driscoll/NNSL photo

Hikoalok spent eight years in prison for sex assault on a child and was released in Iqaluit Nov. 10 after a three-day court hearing. He has to abide by several court-imposed restrictions.

"I'm hoping they send him back to his hometown," said Natsiq Kango, one of the signature gatherers.

Kango has five children and 13 grandchildren, and she doesn't want Hikoalok on the streets of Iqaluit.

Crown attorney Judy Chan tried to submit the petition in court, but Justice Earl Johnson said that the document was more appropriate for the minister and deputy minister of justice.

Leonie Kilabuk took the petition door to door in Apex. She also attended the feast held for the three Northern premiers, petition in hand.

"I have four girls and we are not going to let a child sex abuser in this town. My girls are scared to go out," said Kilabuk.

Kango added, "This is stressful and frustrating. We have had enough of our own problems. We are always trying to make our lives better. Another issue makes it more complex and stressful."

When the curious Grade 5 students at Nakasuk school saw the police warning about Hikoalok, they started asking questions.

"As soon as we got the information, we gave it to all the teachers and put it on the front door of the school," said interim principal Oonga Kilabuk.

"Some of the older kids started asking questions, and the Grade 5 teachers have spoken to the students. It wasn't an easy conversation," said Kilabuk.

Parents, while concerned, have had a measured response.

"We got a couple of phone calls, to make sure we got the notice," said Kilabuk.

The response of parents and teachers up the hill at the Joamie school was similar.

"It (the notice about Hikoalok) is posted around the school. I'm very concerned about it, I don't want him around either," said Joamie school principal Eelee Higgins.

"Luckily enough, now that it is dark, we don't have an afternoon recess," she said.

Joamie school has four teachers on the playground during morning recess.

Schools are not the only group prepared for the release of Hikoalok, the recreation department was also warned.

"Right away the RCMP came up to our department. We posted the forms up at all the recreation facilities where kids are present, the arena, the youth centre, the swimming pool and the curling rink," said Ailsa Lapp, recreation department coordinator in Iqaluit.

Staff have been informed about Hikoalok.