Nunavummiut demand justice in homicide of 'Grizzlies' actor Emerald MacDonald

IQALUIT — About 30 people gathered in a school parking lot as wet snow fell to demand justice for Emerald MacDonald, the 24-year-old actress who was found dead at a cabin outside Kugluktuk on May 3.

RCMP initially called MacDonald's death suspicious, but have since ruled it a homicide.

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MacDonald played the role of Miranda in the 2018 Canadian sports drama film "The Grizzlies," based on the true story of a lacrosse team in Kugluktuk, a hamlet of about 1,500 people and the westernmost community in Nunavut.

Police say MacDonald, also known as "Baboo," was last seen buying supplies in the community on April 30 before she travelled to her family's cabin by snowmobile.

RCMP have not provided an update on the killing since May 20 but said they are still investigating and are asking the public to come forward with any information that may help.

Chief Supt. Amanda Jones told The Canadian Press that investigators from the territory's major crimes unit are in Kugluktuk. She said she couldn't provide more details.

"It is under investigation and we're very active in continuing with that investigation," Jones said.

As the wind picked up, the group walked to Iqaluit's RCMP detachment. Some linked arms while others pulled each other close, slowing their footsteps as they embraced and wiped away tears.

As they reached the police building, a woman pulled a single pair of running shoes from a cloth bag and gently put them on the concrete step in memory of MacDonald.

Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, co-producer of "The Grizzlies," spoke to the crowd.

"We chose to come here because we want to trust that the RCMP are doing a good job with the investigation, although we want to trust the RCMP are doing a good job with the investigation, we all know that we can’t necessarily trust that," Arnaquq-Baril said.

"We want Baboo's family to know that they're loved, that she's loved."

Others in the crowd spoke about their favourite memories of MacDonald and also called on the RCMP to make progress on the investigation.

"She didn't want to die. She shouldn't have died,"

"Justice for Emerald," people in the crowd shouted in unison.

Calvin Pedersen, the legislature member for Kugluktuk, told the assembly earlier this week that residents of the community have hung red dresses outside their homes in solidarity with MacDonald's family.

"I urge anyone who may know something to contact the Kugluktuk RCMP," Pedersen said.

"Baboo's voice and passion made her community very proud of her. This is a terrible loss for our town."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship

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