Inuvik police say they are working with the children responsible for a fire that destroyed an abandoned apartment block in the town on June 6.
Speaking to town councillors on Wednesday evening, RCMP representatives said two of those involved were under the age of 12, meaning they cannot be held criminally responsible.
Under Canadian law, nobody aged 11 or under can be charged with a crime.
One person was sent to hospital for the effects of smoke inhalation during the fire, on Kugmallit Road. They later recovered.
The fire took place opposite a playground, inside a building that had not been occupied for some years.
“A lot of people in town are aware of who was involved and there hasn’t really been anything said,” Councillor Ray Solotki said during Wednesday’s council meeting, at which RCMP answered questions on their regular monthly report.
“I’m not asking to out these kids right here, but kids in the past have been asked to go in and apologize to those in question,” said Solotki, who asked what was being done in this instance.
In response, Cst Stephanie Leduc told Solotki “publicly outing” the children involved would not help.
“Embarrassment is not the way to educate children or to get them to follow the rules,” Leduc said.
“I’ve been in contact with these youth and their parents every week. I’m talking with them. They are very apologetic.
“I’m trying to find a way to get the community to know that these boys are sorry. There has been talk of letters – I’m trying to figure out how to distribute that to people without outing the youth and keeping their privacy safe, because they are youth.”
A playground, centre left, is seen opposite apartment buildings – one of which burned down on June 6, 2020 – in a satellite image of Inuvik’s Kugmallit Road.
Leduc said the two younger children, aged under 12, had spent three hours with her cleaning up community parks and fixing damage at the town skate park. “I think that was suitable for their age,” she said.
Finding an appropriate response for an older youth involved in starting the fire “is going to take a bit more time,” Leduc said.
“It is being addressed. It is serious … I understand there would be concerns if people don’t know what’s going on.”
Solotki said she welcomed Leduc’s response.
“I hear people say nothing is being done and these kids are being allowed to get away with it,” the councillor said.
“If this comes up again, I can say, ‘No, they’re on it, the kids are remorseful and doing something.’ I really appreciate it.”