Mamakwa McKay Inquest Results in Powerful Recommendations Aimed at Preventing Similar Deaths in Future

Today, November 4, 2022, the jury returned a verdict in the inquest into the deaths of Don Mamakwa and Roland McKay.

The inquest sat from October 11 to November 3, 2022, and heard evidence from over 30 witnesses including:

  • Former Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation Alvin Fiddler, who testified to the relationship between the Thunder Bay Police Service and Indigenous communities, the need for consultation with Indigenous communities and organizations, and barriers to the implementation of recommendations regarding institutional racism and bias within the Thunder Bay Police Service and the Thunder Bay Police Services Board;
  • Suzanne Shoush, who testified to the issues of unconscious bias and stereotyping in healthcare and law enforcement;
  • Dan Taddeo, Acting Chief of the Thunder Bay Police Service;
  • Malcom Mercer, Ontario Civilian Police Commission appointed Administrator of the Thunder Bay Police Services Board; and
  • Members of the Thunder Bay Police Service and Superior North EMS who interacted with Mr. Mamakwa and Mr. McKay.

The jury heard evidence that Don Mamakwa asked numerous times to be taken to hospital but was ignored by both EMS and Police. He was then left alone in the cells, where he went unchecked for three hours after his death.

In respect of Roland McKay, the jury heard evidence that when Mr. McKay was assessed by paramedics, he presented with a concerning elevated heart rate and blood pressure which should have resulted in his transportation to hospital. Instead, paramedics failed to properly advise him of the risks of his condition, and he was transported to the cells where he later passed away.

Both of these men deserved so much better from the services in Thunder Bay. It is clear that stereotyping and biases played a major role in the events leading up to both of these tragic deaths. Both of these deaths, with prompt and appropriate medical care, were preventable.

Falconers LLP is honoured to represent the families of Mr. Mamakwa and Mr. McKay in these proceedings.

Related Documents: 

Media Coverage:

Willow Fiddler, Globe and Mail (Nov. 7, 2022) “Verdict delivered in Thunder Bay inquest into deaths of Indigenous men in police custody”

James Murray, Net News Ledger. (Nov. 6, 2022) “Coroner’s Jury Sets Recommendations in Death of Mamakwa and McKay”

CBC News (Nov. 4, 2022) “Coroner’s jury releases 35 recommendations in police custody deaths of 2 Oji-Cree men in Thunder Bay, Ont.”

Doug Diaczuk, TB Newswatch (Nov. 4, 2022) “Mamakwa, McKay inquest jury hands down 35 recommendations”

Logan Turner, CBC News (Nov. 4, 2022) “Families of 2 Oji-Cree men who died in Thunder Bay police custody seek healing as they await inquest findings”

Logan Turner, CBC Thunder Bay. (Nov. 4, 2022) “Inquest jury finds ‘undetermined’ cause in Oji-Cree man’s death in Thunder Bay, family wanted homicide finding”

Holly Mckenzie-Sutter (The Canadian Press), Toronto Star. (Nov. 4, 2022) “Jury recommends anti-racism training for police after Indigenous men’s custody deaths”

Holly Mckenzie-Sutter (The Canadian Press), Kelowna Daily Courier (Nov. 3, 2022) “Lawyer for family argues Thunder Bay custody death was a homicide as inquest wraps”

Previous Postings: – Oct. 19, 2022 – Oct. 17, 2022 – Oct. 11, 2022 – March 16, 2022 – January 14, 2021

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