Editor’s note: This story contains graphic details.

A man who killed his friend during a drunken stabbing in Arviat in February 2019 will be able to serve the remainder of his sentence in Nunavut, as he requested.

Albert Napayok pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Manasie Thompson and also entered guilty pleas to charges of assault and breach of probation for a separate incident involving a woman.

On Oct. 8, chief justice Neil Sharkey imposed a sentence of five years and nine months for the manslaughter and two months for the assault.

Napayok had already served 963 days in custody prior to sentencing, which was credited at 48.2 months. That means the 22.8 months he has left to serve will be at the Baffin Correctional Centre, which his defence lawyer sought on his behalf.

The Crown requested a sentence four months longer, which would have forced Napayok to be imprisoned in a southern federal institution.

“Albert’s guilty plea to the manslaughter charge is a factor which should serve to decrease the severity of the penalty he receives. Mr. Napayok addressed the court, and he did so as Mr. Thompson’s family members listened. He was eloquent in detailing how the offence and his subsequent incarceration has affected his life and how he needs to heal,” Sharkey stated. “He also made an apology to Manasie’s family for the harm he has inflicted upon them. I would point out to Mr. Thompson’s family that it is often difficult for a person to express sorrow in a public setting… The Gladue writer also sees Mr. Napayok as an excellent candidate for cultural re-integration.”

Sharkey also recited the purpose of the sentencing process.

“We do not punish for the sake of punishment. The common law principle of restraint says that a judge should impose jail only when necessary, and then only as much as is necessary,” the judge stated, also noting that although Napayok’s act of violence was “inexplicable,” he did not “by definition” intend to cause Thompson’s death.

The chief judge also expressed his sympathy to Thompson’s relatives.

“The impact that Manasie’s death has had on your family can only be described as colossal. You have all suffered, and continue to suffer, in so many ways. Manasie’s senseless killing can never be undone. I am powerless to ease your grief, only time can do that,” he said.

The fatal encounter occurred after a night of drinking hard liquor and smoking cannabis at Napayok’s Arviat residence.

An argument ensued between Napayok and Thompson, 29. Napayok cut him and stabbed him with a hunting knife. The wound that killed him was in the back, piercing his lung.

Napayok dragged his body outside and covered it in snow under his porch.

After being arrested, he confessed to the killing.

He has four assault convictions on his criminal record and he was under a probation order when he took Thompson’s life.

Napayok, 32, has endured a “rough life,” according to the court transcript. He was two years old when his mother was murdered. His father was in and out of jail and he was raised by a series of foster parents, including one home where he was emotionally and physically abused.

“Mr. Napayok was deprived of a normal childhood. He grew up without any real sense of family, at all. Indeed, and to the contrary, violence and neglect were ‘normalized’ as part of his upbringing,” the court transcript reads, noting that he became reliant on alcohol to cope and was consequently unable to control his behaviour at times. “Frankly, considering his dire upbringing, his record is less severe than many other offenders who come before the court with similar deprivation.”

Napayok will also be placed on probation for two years following his sentence and will be prohibited from possessing firearms for life.

Sharkey also passed judgment on how alcoholism continues to have a dire effect, particularly in the territory.

“Alcohol abuse is tearing apart the fabric of our society. It fills our criminal and family dockets as well as our jails,” he said. “The homicide rate in Nunavut has, since 2000, been at least 10 times higher than the national average. Yet, some 20 years after division from the Northwest Territories, Nunavut does still not have a single residential treatment facility. The frequency of crime fueled by alcohol is matched only by the paucity of treatment options.”

A treatment centre, through a partnership among the federal and territorial governments and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, is expected to open in Iqaluit in 2025.

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