Yellowknife

Guilty plea in death of Mark Poodlat outside Yellowknife shelter


In a quiet voice, Victor Shane Ugyuk said “guilty” when asked how he pleaded to the charge of manslaughter in Supreme Court on Monday.

The 32-year-old Yellowknife resident attacked Mark Poodlat in front of the downtown day shelter and sobering centre on September 3, 2019 in a crime caught on surveillance cameras across the street.

Ugyuk could be seen punching Poodlat three times as he fell to the ground in front of the facility on 50 Street. No one came to Poodlat’s aid.

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Police were called to the scene and Poodlat was transported to Edmonton by medevac, where he died two days later.

Court records show Ugyuk has previous convictions for assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm. There are two convictions for assault in 2019.

Records show he has also lived a tragic life. In February 2012, Ugyuk’s partner – Sarah Aiyout, 24 – died in a house fire in the community of Taloyoak, in Nunavut. The fire claimed the lives of his sons Victor Jr, four, and Jordee, two. Aiyout was pregnant with her third child.

RCMP later determined the fire was deliberately set by Aiyout and deemed the incident a murder-suicide. Ugyuk was living in Yellowknife at the time.

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Friends remembered Poodlat as kind, gentle, and generous. Poodlat’s mother was in court on Monday and quietly wept as Justice Louise Charbonneau spoke.

NNSL previously reported an argument over a bike may have triggered the attack.

Poodlat’s death followed months of debate over the role of the day shelter and sobering centre in treating people living with addictions, violence, and homelessness.

The killing sparked renewed calls for urgent change in and around the facility, which had opened one year earlier.

An evaluation of the combined facility, released just prior to the homicide, said it was proving effective on many fronts but improvements could be made.

Evaluators recommended – among other actions – routine safety patrols by staff following regular complaints from neighbours. 

Nearby businesses and landlords have documented incidents of drunkenness, intimidation, and physical violence affecting them, their staff, and residents.

Ugyuk will be sentenced over two days, August 24 and 25. Extra time has been made available as many victim impact statements may be forthcoming.

He remains in custody.

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