An investigation into the November 9 death of a Cree woman in Whapmagoostui, Mary Fleming, has resulted in an arrest. Joseph Audlarock, an 18-year-old Whapmagoostui man, appeared in criminal court June 10 and was charged with aggravated assault.
According to the information report provided by Sergeant Jean Raphael Drolet of the Sureté du Québec, Audlarock did “wound, maim, disfigure, committing thereby the indictable offence provided by Section 268 of the Criminal Code.”
“I think they’re waiting for DNA results,” said Sidney Orr, Fleming’s cousin. “It takes a couple of weeks for the results to confirm all of that so they can actually lay a real charge. I don’t know how she actually died – the beating, exposure, freezing? They didn’t find her until the morning. They know there was a sexual assault.”
Whapmagoostui Chief Louisa Wynne announced on public radio that the SQ had been conducting outstanding investigations in the area, including into Fleming’s case. Orr said that the SQ flew to Whapmagoostui to pick up someone around June 6, which he believes was related to the case.
Fleming’s family is still deeply impacted by her death and have decided to wait until the court hearing in September before making any statements to media. At the time of her passing, Fleming was 47. She is survived by her children and grandchildren.
“She was a very nice person,” Orr told the Nation. “She looked after her family. She loved to dance; she loved the music. She was always friendly, a loving person, a good friend to many people. She was full of good cheer the last time I saw her.”
Her family was originally from the Fort George area and relocated with the community to present-day Chisasibi when Fleming was a young girl. Nearly 20 years ago, she moved to Whapmagoostui, working odd jobs to support her family as a single mother. She became one of the main servers at Whapmagoostui’s Resto-Pub and was well known in the community for her extroverted personality.
At 2:22 am November 9, Fleming left the local social club with a young man who apparently returned a half hour later saying he had been attacked, though nobody paid much attention at the time. Kativik Regional Police Force received a call the following day after Fleming was found unconscious outside a residence in Kuujjuarapik, the Inuit side of the community.
“The last time I saw her was on the video surveillance camera the following day,” recalled Orr. “There were other people there, probably her friends. It wasn’t a busy night. She left the social club just like any other night. There was no drama, nothing extraordinary, everybody in good spirits.”
Orr had never seen the suspect before seeing that video footage but couldn’t help noting that he looked like a kid. Despite the shock of his cousin’s passing, he believes the arrest will provide the community some relief.
“I know if they didn’t catch anybody, there was still that uncertainty there could be somebody out there doing this,” explained Orr. “Mary’s not the only one who has died up here. There were others killed. Some have been caught already and there are others nobody knows what happened to them. There are two women they’ve never found.”