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Family seeks apology after son accused of theft during Arctic Winter Games

Rankin Inlet hockey player says he's trying to put incident behind him
Team Nunavut U15 player Shea Karetak of Rankin Inlet felt mad, scared and sad when police and Sport Nunavut officials wouldn't believe his side of the story during an incident at the 2024 Arctic Winter Games in Mat-Su Valley, Alaska, from March 10-16.

The Karetak family of Rankin Inlet believe their son, Shea, 14, is owed an apology by Sport Nunavut following an incident at the 2024 Arctic Winter Games (AWG) in Mat-Su Valley in Alaska from March 10-16.

Shea was on Team Nunavut's U15 ice hockey team at the Games.

Shea's dad, Panniuq Karetak, said his son went shopping and walking around with some teammates following their last round-robin game that eliminated them from further play.

He said it was kind of late in the evening and they were out without supervision.

SA国际影视传媒I don't know why they went unsupervised,SA国际影视传媒 said Panniuq. SA国际影视传媒淭hey all met up at a gas bar.

SA国际影视传媒My son and one of the other players went in back and, when they left the gas bar to head back to the school where they staying, they noticed one of their teammates running out, obviously, running away because he had [allegedly] stolen a number of vapes.

SA国际影视传媒The next day police showed up at the school and wanted to apprehend the boys who were seen in their security video. My son, obviously, being at the store, was also accused of stealing vapes too, even though he didn't even know his teammates were going to steal vapes.SA国际影视传媒

Panniuq said Sport Nunavut mission staff also got involved. He said he and his wife Uja were informed that Sport Nunavut negotiated with the police officers and actually prevented the six boys from going to juvenile detention. He and Uja found out later that their son wasn't even one of the individuals recognized on the security camera footage.

SA国际影视传媒Someone gave the police names of who went to the store, but we don't know where it came from. We tried to ask questions, but they ended up getting detained anyways, and it wasn't until four hours later that they had to release Shea.

SA国际影视传媒As the story played out, it went from them stealing vapes, to stealing vapes and selling them to other players, but, we don't know where that information came from either. During the investigation, when they were speaking to my son, we weren't even aware of what was going on at that point.

SA国际影视传媒My son was telling them the truth and, when we finally spoke to Shea after the fact, he told Uja and I that they weren't accepting his story and they kept telling him to admit that he stole and sold vapes when he didn't.SA国际影视传媒

Threatened with jail

Shea said when they wouldn't believe what he was telling them, and were threatening him with jail if he wouldn't tell them the truth. He admittedly got scared.

SA国际影视传媒I felt like they were trying to pressure me into ratting on my friends,SA国际影视传媒 said Shea. SA国际影视传媒淭hat made me feel pretty bad. I spoke with both the police and Sport Nunavut and nobody would believe what I was telling them.

SA国际影视传媒Sport Nunavut said some of the other players told a different story. They told them I was helping them to steal seven vapes, which I was wasn't. Sport Nunavut ended up trying to fine each of the accused $500 each.SA国际影视传媒

Panniuq said they were able to appeal the disciplinary actions against Shea. In addition to the fine, Shea was also facing a two-year ban from any Sport Nunavut activities and they were calling for all his AWG gear to be returned.

He said in doing so, that would also have forced Hockey Nunavut into bringing forth its own disciplinary actions.

SA国际影视传媒We met with the AWG committee and they issued a letter to Sport Nunavut advising them to not move forward with their decision and to rescind the letter they sent Shea informing him that he was banned.SA国际影视传媒

Shea said when it was all over it left him feeling sad, scared and mad.

He said he doesn't really know why no one believed his recollections, and it made him feel alienated from the other players.

SA国际影视传媒I wasn't really friends with any of my teammates before the AWG because none of them are from Rankin,SA国际影视传媒 said Shea.

SA国际影视传媒I think someone owes me apology, but I'm just going to try to put it all behind me.

SA国际影视传媒When I got back home to Rankin all my friends were asking me if I actually stole the vapes. And, when I told them no, they believed me. That felt good.SA国际影视传媒

Panniuq said he thinks a better job could have been done in handling the situation.

SA国际影视传媒It just would have been nice through all of this for someone to be on Shea's side,SA国际影视传媒 said Panniuq. SA国际影视传媒淗e was pretty much left on his own and that's just not right for a kid only 14 years old.SA国际影视传媒

Kivalliq's News was denied an interview with Sport Nunavut regarding the incident. An email from the Department of Community and Government Services spokesperson Greg Belanger reads as follows:

"The department will not be commenting on the conduct of participants during the Arctic Winter Games. All participants in the Team Nunavut Major Games Program are required to abide by the Team Nunavut Code of Conduct. The code provides guidance on good conduct and the process of dealing with infractions and appeals.

The code requires that every effort will be made to keep information, including documents, confidential. The code and Team NunavutSA国际影视传媒檚 processes are currently under review and the department has commissioned a third-party review of how incidents at the 2024 AWG were managed and communicated. The third-party review will be used to improve Team Nunavut processes.

About the Author: Darrell Greer, Local Journalism Initiative

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