Former MLA turned wellness counsellor Roy Erasmus was left scratching his head after he was randomly assaulted outside a grocery store in downtown Yellowknife last week.

Actually, the longtime NNSL Media columnist and his wife, fellow counsellor and co-owner of Dene Wellness Warriors, was left on a medevac flight to Edmonton after being ordered by a doctor to see a plastic surgeon to repair the damage to his face.

“It wasn’t even an altercation in that no words were exchanged,” Eramus said, reached via phone June 24. He said the assault took place June 21 – National Indigenous Peoples Day – at about 4:45 p.m. He was flown down to Edmonton the next morning and operated on at the University of Alberta Hospital.

Erasmus said he was returning a cart to the corral near the store’s entrance when what he described as a slim Indigenous man in his early 30s yelled something “in a loud voice” and punched him in the right eye socket. Erasmus said he is 5’10” and the culprit was taller than him. He was wearing a medical mask.

“I’d like to see this guy go to court and be dealt with appropriately,” Erasmus said.

He was struck by the irony that he almost never uses a full-sized cart when shopping for groceries; he said he was using it to move a case of bottled water he and Jean had just bought to hand out around the post office. He said he was punched as he was returning to his vehicle, which was parked in the stall along the building second-closest to the garbage bins on the Shopper’s Drug mart side of the lot.

“I went to the store because I could see people were hot,” Erasmus said. “This was absolutely the first time I ever experienced anything like this.”

The assailant got in the back seat of a black Dodge Ram pickup that was waiting for him in the parking lot. Erasmus took a picture of the rear as it was leaving; on the advice of Yellowknife RCMP, Yellowknifer is not reproducing the licence plate number.

Erasmus reported the assault to police, who are investigating, according to RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon.

“There is no one in custody and no charges have been filed,” she said. “The investigation is ongoing.”

Erasmus is keeping his chin up in the meantime.

“I still feel disoriented and, well, pissed off,” he said. “But at least there was no permanent damage. No nerves were cut. And we’re vaccinated, so we didn’t have to isolate after coming back from Edmonton. So we’re focusing on things like that.”

Craig Gilbert

Craig is an award-winning journalist who has worked in Ontario, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia and Alberta. He should be at least six feet away from you at all times.

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  1. This is to inform people that I was not medivacced to Edmonton and there was no emergency surgery. I took a regular flight to have a cut under my eye sewn up by a plastic surgeon. I am perfectly fine, except I would like the perpetrator caught and brought to justice. I would also like to know why he punched me.

  2. When I lived in YK, I remember being verbally assaulted with racial epithets in that general area when I was just going about my business in the corridor coming from the supermarket. It seems that little has changed. As that whole area is private property the installation of more CCTV cameras as well as routine security patrols might help.

  3. Does not make sense! My sympathies to Roy! It seems to me the level of belligerence and aggressive behaviour is on the rise in the downtown core. I thought maybe it was just me. Apparently not!