The Court of Better Fiction - Three Trials Two Executions and Arctic Sovereignty
2020 Arthur Ellis Award, Best Nonfiction Crime Book — Shortlisted
In its rush to establish dominion over the North, Canada executed two innocent Inuit.
In 1921, the RCMP arrested two Inuit males suspected of killing their uncle. While in custody, one of the accused allegedly killed a police officer and a Hudson's Bay Company trader.
The Canadian government hastily established an unprecedented court in the Arctic, but the trial quickly became a master class in judicial error. The verdicts were decided in Ottawa weeks before the court convened. Authorities were so certain of convictions, the executioner and gallows were sent north before the trial began. In order to win, the Crown broke many of its own laws.
The precedent established Canada’s legal relationship with the Inuit, who would spend the next seventy-seven years fighting to regain their autonomy and Indigenous rule of law.