Mark Rendell
Mark Rendell

The Streets Lose Another

The man who died this Easter weekend was a well-liked member of the street community from Gamètì

The deceased man found by police in the alley between 48th and 49th streets on Friday morning has been identified as Raymond Simpson, a 43-year-old man from Gameti.

Details surrounding the death are still unclear. According to a press release issued on Friday, RCMP “responded to the report of a deceased male” shortly after 8:00 am that morning. Several people in the street community, who wished to remain anonymous, told EDGEYK.com the body was found in the small parking lot behind Parry House, the brown building that houses Creative Basics.

According to those sources, Simpson froze to death overnight, though the RCMP has not confirmed this as of Monday afternoon, saying “We won’t be releasing any further info at this time.” Friday’s press release says: “A cause of death has not yet been determined however, the initial investigation has not uncovered any evidence of foul play.” Simpson’s body has been sent to Edmonton for an autopsy, according Simpson’s sister Therese Bekale.

Simpson was a well-known and well-liked member of the street community.

“He was pretty quiet but knew what to say,” said one man. He spent most of his time on South Side, the area of town south of Frame Lake, said another.

Bekale, who was reached in Gameti, said Simpson enjoyed hunting and trapping and often told stories about being on the trapline with their father. The third oldest of six children, he’d been living with her for a year, after he was hit by a truck in Yellowknife in 2013.

“Even though he doesn’t walk good, he liked to cook. Every morning he’d get up and cook breakfast for us,” said Bekale. He’d also prepare lunch for the family, she said. “He made soup, he cooked hamburgers and spaghetti, he could bake soup, pork chops, caribou meat.”

After that year-long recovery, he moved back to Yellowknife last July. “He just wanted to visit, and he said he wanted to come back,” said Bekale. “We tried to get him to come back. Every time I saw him I said you should go home… [and he’d say] ’Not yet, not yet, when I’m ready I’ll go home.’”

A number of people in the street community highlighted the problem of people freezing in the streets, especially if they’re intoxicated.

“More people need to recognize homeless people need a place to stay warm,” said one man. He pointed out that if people are turned away from emergency shelters due to intoxication, they don’t really have anywhere to go. “That’s why I call it death row.”

At this point there’s no indication that Simpson was turned away from a shelter, though EDGEYK.com was unable to reach anyone at the Salvation Army shelter on  Monday afternoon.