Man shot by police in northern Quebec stabbings was dealing with trauma, friends say
A portrait is emerging of the man shot by police in the northern Quebec slayings of a quiet young man with an easy smile who was dealing with tragedies of his own, including the recent death of his mother and his brother’s suicide.
Illutak Anautak, 19, has been identified by local officials as the individual shot dead by police after three break-ins during which five people were stabbed early Saturday morning.
The man’s uncle, Lucassie Anautak, his young cousin who was about 10 years old, and Eli Qinuajuak, his aunt’s partner, were all killed, three local officials confirmed to CBC News.
Two others were taken to hospital with injuries. Investigators said Sunday evening that they are no longer listed as being in critical condition.
Anautak’s mother was killed by her boyfriend in 2014, friends say, while an older brother committed suicide eight or nine years ago.
Randy McLeod, Anautak’s former teacher at the local school, described Anautak as a “very nice, extremely respectful” student. In 2011, Anautak was among a group of students who joined McLeod on an educational trip to Montreal.
At the same time, McLeod said, the young man was “dealing with a lot of personal things and perhaps there wasn’t any support.”
“He was dealing with a lot of trauma; I guess that maybe was too much,” said McLeod, who is on leave from his position at the school.
“I don’t know what the trigger was, what created the situation. Obviously I wasn’t there.”
McLeod worries that even if Anautak had sought help, the mental health resources wouldn’t have been available.
“You need that kind of thing to be available to you in those moments, not, ‘Ok, we’ll get a counsellor flown here in a couple weeks to speak in another language,'” he said.
Struggled to cope with mother’s death
Despite his troubles, though, friends say Anautak rarely showed signs of anger.
He was passionate about hockey — he played goalie and volunteered as a coach in the community — and posted photos on his Facebook page in appreciation of his hometown.
In a post accompanying a photo just last month, he wrote, “Akulivik always the best!”
He had three younger siblings and was “like a father to them,” said Rebecca Tukalak, one of his closest friends.
He was “just always smiling and a funny guy,” she said in an interview on Facebook messenger, adding that he never showed signs of aggression.
Still, Anautuk struggled to cope with the death of his mother.
In 2015, in a rare display of emotion on social media, he wrote “I finally get it mom, I miss you so much.”
Tukalak, who lives in Puvirnituq, a remote community further south, said she last saw him in May, and he didn’t seem like himself.
“He was really weird and was talking really low. I think that was a goodbye,” she said.
Her takeaway, she said, is that even the “most nice and quiet people explode one day, so it is really important to express truest feelings.”