Falconers LLP represents NAPS at Cat Lake Inquest
The Inquest into the Death of Romeo Wesley concluded on July 20, 2017 as the jury issued its verdict and recommendations. The jury concluded that the means of death was accidental and provided 53 recommendations to prevent similar deaths from recurring in the future.
Among the recommendations, the jury called for the government of Ontario to “take all reasonable steps to ensure that legislation is tabled and implemented to permit NAPS to be designated as a police force under the Police Services Act”. It also recommended that NAPS receive more funding from the federal and provincial governments in ten specific areas, including for an adequate complement of officers, effective dispatch communications, more training officers, and specialized training.
The recommendations were directed at several organizations, including NAPS, Cat Lake First Nation, and various federal and provincial departments and ministries. Of the 53 recommendations, 36 were directed at Health Canada and other health authorities.
Update: Thursday July 13th
The inquest heard evidence from NAPS officer, Constable Chris Carson and Health Canada nurse, Barb Rodgers.
Constable Carson testified about the chronic underfunding NAPS receives and the need for the organization to be designated as an essential service under the Police Services Act. Constable Carson testified that First Nation communities in the North deserve the same level of policing services enjoyed by Ontario residents in rest of the province.
On Monday, July 17th, the inquest is scheduled to hear evidence from Chief Connie Gray McKay from Mishkeegogamang First Nation.
Update: Wednesday July 12th
The Inquest into the death of Romeo Wesley heard evidence from NAPS training officer Sgt. Eisenbach, Ontario Police College trainer Chris Lawrence, and community members Laverne Wesley and Sarah Mezzetay.
Sgt. Eisenbach testified that the training received by NAPS officers exceeds legislative requirements despite inadequate resources. He noted that NAPS is funded by the federal and provincial governments as a “program” rather than an essential service and has to divert resources from operational needs in order to provide mandatory training. Sgt. Eisenbach’s evidence was that it would improve the training provided to NAPS officers if NAPS were subject to the Police Services Act like all police forces that serve non-Indigenous communities in Ontario.
The inquest into the death of Romeo Wesley (“Wesley”) in Cat Lake First Nation (“Cat Lake”). Wesley, 34, died at the Health Canada nursing station in Cat Lake on September 9, 2010. Falconers LLP lawyers Asha James and Marc Gibson are representing Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service (“NAPS”) in this inquest.
The Wesley inquest is the first inquest in Ontario to be held in a First Nations community. Cat Lake is located approximately 180 kilometers north of Sioux Lookout, in Northwestern Ontario. The community is accessible by air year-round and winter ice roads.
An inquest is a public hearing into the circumstances of a death. Inquests are conducted by a coroner, before a jury of five. The jury may make non-binding recommendations aimed at preventing deaths in similar circumstances.
The public may view the Wesley inquest proceedings via livestream at the following link: