2020 Arthur Ellis Award, Best Nonfiction Crime Book — Shortlisted
In its rush to establish dominion over the North, Canada executed two innocent Inuit.
In 1921, the RCMP arrested two Inuit males suspected of killing their uncle. While in custody, one of the accused allegedly killed a police officer and a Hudson's Bay Company trader.
The Canadian government hastily established an unprecedented court in the Arctic, but the trial quickly became a master class in judicial error. The verdicts were decided in Ottawa weeks before the court convened. Authorities were so certain of convictions, the executioner and gallows were sent north before the trial began. In order to win, the Crown broke many of its own laws.
The precedent established Canada’s legal relationship with the Inuit, who would spend the next seventy-seven years fighting to regain their autonomy and Indigenous rule of law.
Debra Komar’s books have won numerous honours, including the Canadian Authors Award for History. A Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, she investigated genocides for the United Nations, testifying as an expert witness at The Hague and across North America.
Komar puts her forensic skills to work and makes a convincing case that, in the rush to judgment, the real murderer was allowed to escape.
…a concise, scathing, and at the same time, sympathetic account of a travesty of justice committed against the Indigenous peoples living above the Arctic Circle.