Racism in the Court

The real consequences of fake justice

Alikomiak did confess to murder. In December 1921, he and another man were apprehended for killing Pugana, his uncle. The arresting officer, Corporal William Doak, took him to Tree River, then in the northeast Northwest Territories but today part of Nunavut, where he was initially held in an RCMP storage shed. Months went by, and Doak grew increasingly abusive toward the accused, until one morning in early April 1922, Alikomiak got his hands on the officer’s gun and shot him. Afterwards, Alikomiak would offer a full and detailed confession, through an RCMP interpreter, including how he also killed the Hudson’s Bay Company trader Otto Binder, a potential witness.

As bizarre as it sounds — a timid Inuit boy first accused of murdering his uncle and then accused of murdering a police officer and another man likely to find out — no one at the time seemed to question the motivation or confession. To...