“Would Brody Meekis be alive today?” – Updates from ONCA Appeal in Discrimination Case Against Coroner’s Office
Toronto, ON –
Last week, Julian Falconer and Molly Churchill of Falconers LLP appeared at the Ontario Court of Appeal on behalf of the Keno-Meekis Family in their pursuit of accountability in the death of their son. In 2014, four-year old Brody Meekis, the son of Fraser Meekis and Wawa Keno, died at Sandy Lake First Nation of strep throat, an easily curable infection. Subsequent to Brody’s death, the coroner’s office failed to attend at the death scene to investigate, as required under the Coroners Act.
Despite guidelines, the coroner, Dr. Wojciech Aniol, did not go to Sandy Lake to investigate the boy’s death or interview his family or the nurses. Instead, he asked local police to investigate any family drug or alcohol abuse, court heard.
“When we talk about the loss of Brody Meekis and the needless death of Brody Meekis, we are left haunted by the question: If the coronial system had been functioning the way that it should have been for Indigenous people … would Brody Meekis be alive today?”
As of May 6, 2021, the Ontario Court of Appeal has reserved its decision in the appeal.
In 2018, the defendants in this suit brought a motion to strike the claim in its entirety and prevent it from proceeding to a full trial. This motion was successful: in reasons dated April 15, 2019, Justice Fregeau of the Ontario Superior Court in Thunder Bay threw out the claim.
The Keno/Meekis family is appealing the motion judge’s decision. This appeal will determine whether Ontario can be held liable for the systemic refusal of coroners to do their job when their duties include attending on death investigations of First Nations children in remote communities. The appeal will determine whether the under-servicing of these children’s families and communities can ground a claim for breach of s. 15 of the Charter, misfeasance in public office, and negligent supervision.
For more coverage, see Canadian Press:
“Coroner role after strep-throat death of Indigenous child before Ontario’s top court” (May 6, 2021), https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/coroner-role-after-strep-throat-death-of-indigenous-child-before-ontarios-top-court-574363092.html
For more information on the Keno-Meekis family’s fight for justice, read here:
https://falconers.ca/court-of-appeal-reserves-on-discrimination-case-against-coroners-office/ (May 7, 2021)