Three years after Marina St. Croix sustained a violent attack from her former husband Tariq St. Croix, she and her four children continue to live at the scene of the crime.
Having sought help through social service avenues and bringing the matter twice to the rental board, “the government themselves have failed me,” she said. “Housing failed to transfer me. I’ve spoken to my MLA, she has failed to get any help for me, I brought it to the Supreme Court, they failed to help me.”
St. Croix is turning to the public instead.
On Jan. 26, 2021 she launched a GoFundMe campaign seeking $88,888 to give her family a fresh start.
In addition to the emotional turmoil caused from remaining at the residence – including PTSD, regular nightmares, feelings of withdrawal and isolation and distrust towards men – St. Croix said that when Tariq is released from prison, she and her children will no longer be safe in that home.
Tariq was sentenced to five years in prison for aggravated assault. After deducting the time already spent at the North Slave Correctional Centre (NSCC) and applying the standard 1.5 credit for pre-trial custody, he has 21 months remaining in his sentence.
Tariq is set to be released on May 2, 2022. “I do not plan on being here when he is released,” Marina said. “Or at least that is my hope.”
One condition of Tariq’s three year probation is that once released from prison, he is barred from re-entering the Northwest Territories. This order was made as a means of protection for St. Croix and her children but she said she does not trust “a piece of paper to tell him to stay away from my family and I.”
On the night of the attack in question, Tariq was already on two separate court orders preventing him from attending the residence of his estranged wife. Both were brought on from prior convictions of violent attacks against her.
“The goal is to try to move somewhere else, I don’t feel comfortable just sitting in the same place where he assaulted me,” she said. “Even moving within this city is not going to provide me any field of safety, because everybody knows everyone here, and it doesn’t take very long for someone to find out where you live.”
Throughout the course of the court proceedings, Marina said she has been contacted on numerous occasions by Tariq’s father and brothers expressing disbelief in the crimes she claims against her former husband and imploring her to “take it easy” on Tariq. She has also continued to be taunted “snitches get stitches” by Tariq’s friends she told the court at Tariq’s sentencing hearing.
His freedom, her family’s captivity
She said that his freedom is the start of their captivity.
“We were really upset when their plan was to take him out of the territories and leave us here,” she said. “You’ve now just given him freedom to be in all the places that we would potentially be trying to run to.”
“These laws are put in place that are very lenient towards the accuser, and the women that are abused, we are the ones that have to go through another system of abuse, where these systems are very broken, and for some reason are catered towards the abusers,” she said. “This is a Canada wide problem.”
At the time of the attack, St. Croix was in school to obtain her nursing degree. She has since had to drop out of school to focus on her healing.
The family’s current home is under the umbrella of city housing and therefore low rent. “I’m conscious of the fact that I am only surviving and making ends meet because I have low income rent,” St. Croix said.
To relocate, however, the family will need the funds to afford housing at market rent in addition to flying a family of five to their destination and starting from scratch since they don’t have the means to pack and move their belongings.
St. Croix is still waiting for surgeries to recover from a labour made extra painful from injuries sustained in the stabbing. Her physical injuries raise questions as to whether or not she will be able to find work at their new location. She has also raised concerns over the job market due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
As of Tuesday afternoon, her GoFundMe campaign had collected $700 of her $88,888 goal. St. Croix is keeping her fingers crossed that she can raise enough to relocate sooner rather than later.
GoFundMe goal is lucky number
The $88,888 figure, she said, is considered a lucky number in Chinese cultures. After consulting a Chinese aunty, St. Croix said she decided to put all eights.
“I don’t have an amount, I just know that I need to get out of the North,” she said.
Typically, in cases of family violence, names are ban from publication in order to protect the victim. St. Croix, however, said that “a publication ban will being me no justice.”
She said that she often receives messages soliciting her advice from others in circumstances of abuse and almost always tells them the same thing, “do as much as you can to just get out somewhere else.
“There are endless amounts of women in this territory that are being hurt, and maybe even killed, with EPOs (emergency protection orders) already in place. Men don’t listen to a piece of paper.”
As an Indigenous woman, St. Croix asserts the importance of telling her story and breaking the cycle of abuse and ensuing silence.
Tariq was originally charged with attempted murder, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of aggravated assault. St. Croix called the plea deal a joke and said that she wants to she harsher sentencing for those who harm Indigenous women and children.