NEWS
06/08/2011 04:40 EDT | Updated 08/08/2011 05:12 EDT

Four Family Members Found Dead In Iqaluit, RCMP Confirm

CP

CBC -- People in Iqaluit and across Nunavut are shocked by the deaths of four family members whose bodies were discovered late Tuesday in what police have described as connected cases.

The bodies, one at a local graveyard and three inside a home, are two adults and two children from the same family, CBC News has learned.

"It is a sad day here in Iqaluit and across Nunavut. Four Nunavummiut lost their lives," Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak said in the territorial legislature on Wednesday.

"There are no words that can adequately describe the shock and grief that is resonating throughout Iqaluit and beyond. My heart goes out to the family and friends of those affected."

Aariak said she has been personally impacted by the tragedy and is working through the stages of grief herself.

RCMP in the Nunavut capital have confirmed few details about the discovery of the bodies. Police plan to release more information at a news briefing scheduled for Thursday.

In a phone interview Wednesday, RCMP Sgt. Jimmy Akavak would only say, "We can confirm two children are involved and two adults at this point.

"We're trying to notify family members outside of Iqaluit and locally, and staying away from releasing any names at this point," Akavak said, adding that members of the community are shocked and sad about the incidents.

Police were called around 4:30 p.m. ET Tuesday to the local cemetery, where the man's body was found. A firearm was also discovered near the body.

A short time later, police were called to a home in the city's Tundra Valley subdivision and found three more bodies. The two cases are connected, according to RCMP who cordoned off the areas of both crime sites.

Forensic investigators are travelling to Iqaluit from southern Canada, according to police.

Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern said news of the deaths are being met with "shock and profound sadness" among residents in the city of about 7,000.

"This has really shaken our community. We need to come together and help each other to pull through this," Redfern said in a release.

Redfern said she will be seeking crisis intervention programs for people who have been affected by the deaths.

"Many people, including family and friends of the victims, emergency responders, and community members need immediate counselling," she said.

"At the same time, this territory must work together to end the root causes of our problems."

Aariak said Nunavut's deputy ministers of health, education and justice met on Wednesday morning to "coordinate efforts and determine what services are available for those affected by this tragedy."

A number of counselling services are available in Iqaluit, and crisis counsellors are being brought in from outside the territory, Aariak said.

Students and staff are receiving grief counselling at Joamie Ilinniarvik elementary school, where one of the four victims was a Grade 2 student.

"We got the local counsellors from the high school, [and] some counsellors from the middle school and elementary school," vice-principal Clyde Steele told CBC News.

"They're here at the school today, supporting the students and teachers on an as-needed basis."

Meanwhile, St. Jude's Anglican Parish Hall opened its doors on Wednesday "for anyone to come to talk about whatever," said volunteer Rebekah Williams.

"If you want to cry, it's there. If you want to just express how you feel, it's there for people," she said.

"It's still a very small community. When something like this happens, it affects everybody."