06/09/2011 10:02 EDT | Updated 08/09/2011 05:12 EDT

Iqaluit Deaths: Bodies Found Days After Woman Said She Would Leave Husband, Take Kids


Vivian Sula Enuaraq's family says the Iqaluit woman had finally had enough.

The 29-year-old had thought about leaving her husband several times during their troubled 11-year relationship, her sister Jolene Arreak recalled from Ottawa.

She had few friends in the northern community, however, and couldn't afford airfare out. So each time she decided to stay in the marriage for the sake of the couple's two young daughters, Arreak said.

But the last time Arreak talked with her sister on the phone Sunday, Enuaraq confided that she was preparing in the coming days to pack her bags and take the children to a women's shelter in a nearby village.

"She was ready to leave him for good," said Arreak. Three days later, Arreak learned they were all dead.

RCMP had found the body of 44-year-old Sylvain Degrasse lying next to a rifle in an Iqaluit cemetery. The discovery led officers to the family's home and the bodies of Enuaraq and their girls, Alexandra, 7, and Aliyah, 2. Police say they aren't looking for any suspects.

Arreak said she was shocked, but always knew something awful might happen.

Last Christmas, she had warned her sister.

"I told her, 'If you stay with him, he always puts you down, and someday he might kill you.' And then she started crying and we cried for awhile. She said the only reason she stayed is for her two girls. She didn't want them to grow up without a father."

Enuaraq was 18 when she started dating Degrasse, who 15 years her senior. Two years later, Arreak found out Degrasse, an employee with the territorial power authority, had become violent.

Enuaraq didn't tell many people about the abuse. And she didn't go to police, even though she was once hospitalized for a concussion, said Arreak.

Arreak said she had several tough talks with her brother-in-law. He spoke about being abused as a child, problems with alcohol and the suicide of his mother and sister.

The violence stopped for a while, Arreak said, and Degrasse was always good with the children.

But he continually called his wife names, told her she couldn't cook and was jealous of other men.

When the couple got engaged a few years ago, Enuaraq was elated, said her sister.

"Later on she was crying and called me and told me that Sylvain locked her engagement ring in the safe and told her it was worth more than her and she shouldn't wear it because she might lose it."

It broke her heart, said Arreak.

Degrasse's uncle, Richard Degrasse, said he didn't know the marriage was in trouble. The Montreal man was at a loss to explain his nephew's actions.

"He had a good job, everything, beautiful children, too. Maybe he had trouble in the head. I don't know."

The women's mother, Micah Arreak, was too distraught to talk much about the tragedy but said all people can become controlling and manipulative when "coupled with substance abuse."

On her Facebook page, Micah Arreak wrote to her dead daughter: "I am sorry I let your hand go to the guy you trusted.

"The last thing I regret ... not taking the girls with me back home."

By Chris Purdy, The Canadian Press