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No criminal offence in Kasabonika woman's death

Friday February 15, 2013

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has determined there was no criminal offence in the death of 23-year-old Lena Anderson of Kasabonika Lake First Nation.

On Feb. 14, OPP announced it had concluded its investigation into Anderson’s Feb. 1 death.

“Investigators determined that when the Nishnawbe Aski Police Services (NAPS) officer determined Ms. Anderson was unresponsive, he immediately took her to the local Nursing Station for medical attention,” the OPP wrote in a press release. “Shortly after their arrival at the Nursing Station, she was pronounced deceased.”

As a result of Anderson’s death, Kasabonika First Nation Chief Gordon Anderson has raised concerns over the lack of a holding cell in the community.

“We haven’t had a jail cell for the last two or three years,” Anderson told Wawatay News.

The OPP was asked to investigate the death because NAPS, as a First Nations police force, does not fall under the Ontario Police Services Act. The Act stipulates that an independent Special Investigations Unit is responsible for investigating circumstances involving police and civilians that have resulted in death, however First Nations police forces operate under the federal First Nations Policing Program, which does not have the same requirement.

Since the death occurred while the woman was in police custody, there will be an inquest to review the circumstances surrounding the incident.

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