CORONERS ACCOUNTABLE FOR “NO-SHOWS” IN FIRST NATION COMMUNITIES: PROVINCE’S HIGHEST COURT RULES THAT ABUSE AND DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS AGAINST THE CHIEF CORONER AND UNDERLINGS ARE LEGALLY VALID
Case ‘about breaking new ground’ for accountability in coroner death investigations: Julian Falconer – Law Times
Today, the Ontario Court of Appeal released its judgment in Meekis v. Ontario, 2021 ONCA 534, allowing claims against the Chief Coroner, the Regional Supervising Coroner, and the Investigating Coroner to proceed over failures to investigate the death of First Nations child Brody Meekis in 2014.
The judgment can be accessed here..
For a press advisory, including quotes from Brody’s parents Fraser Meekis and Wawa Keno, as well as Chief Delores Kakegamic and counsel Julian Falconer, see: Press Release re Meekis Judgment, ONCA 2021 534 (July 26, 2021)
This important decision acknowledges that failure to attend to investigate the deaths of First Nations children on-reserve can give rise to claims for both Abuse of Office and violations of s. 15 equality rights under the Charter. With this ruling, Ontario’s motion to strike has failed, meaning that the case will now proceed to be heard on the merits.
Today’s decision sets an important precedent for Ontario’s coroner system, with the Court sending a clear warning that a blanket policy of failing to attend to investigate Indigenous deaths is completely unacceptable behaviour – something already acknowledged by the Goudge Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology some thirteen years ago.
For more on the death of Brody Meekis and his family’s fight for justice, see:
“Would Brody Meekis Be Alive Today?” Updates from the Court of Appeal (May 10, 2021)
Law Times – Case ‘about breaking new ground’ for accountability in coroner death investigations: Julian Falconer
Statement from NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler – Court Decision Allows Civil Action to Proceed Against Ontario Coroner’s System.
Radio-Canada – La famille d’un enfant autochtone peut poursuivre un coroner, dit la Cour d’appel
Canadian Lawyer – Lawsuit against coroner after death of Indigenous child should proceed: Court of Appeal for Ontario
Thunder Bay Newswatch – Ruling allows Sandy Lake First Nation family’s claims against province, coroner to go ahead.