A victim of sexual assault – who left Yellowknife as a consequence – has demanded more action from the city and territory.
Writing on EdgeYK.com, former CBC reporter Laura Wright describes being the victim of a sexual assault in Yellowknife several years ago.
She names her attacker as Bobby Zoe. Earlier this month, Zoe was arrested and charged on two counts of sexual assault relating to incidents earlier in February.
“I was walking in downtown Yellowknife and Bobby Zoe ran up behind me and began choking me so hard that I almost blacked out while he shoved his hand down my pants,” recalls Wright.
“He said to me, ‘Do you want to die?'”
Wright says two men in a nearby house saw what was happening and chased Zoe away.
She describes being let down numerous times by city authorities and the court system in the months that followed.
“In a city that is rife with violence towards women,” she writes, “what has to happen for the city, the police, and Yellowknife MLAs to wake up and do something substantial about this? And organizations such as victim services and the justice system have to do better for the people they claim to serve.
“It seems like no one really wants to hear about this. But if we don’t speak freely and openly about our experiences with violence and sexual assault, it will continue to be swept under the rug, and those in charge will continue to avoid doing anything about it.”
Wright argues that an average of 60 reported sexual assaults a year – a fraction, she believes, of the total – shows a territory failing to effectively confront the issue.
“Many crimes in the North stem from alcoholism, drug abuse and mental health issues. These issues are deeply rooted in colonialism and the legacy of residential schools,” she concludes.
“Yet the NWT still has no alcohol and drug treatment centre, and there are no mental health facilities in the entire territory.
“Jail is not the answer for people like Bobby Zoe.”
Wright left Yellowknife in August 2013, “partly due to the assault”.