Jacy Pierre’s family hopeful jury report will lead to change
The grandmother who walked out of a coroner’s inquest on her grandson Jacy Pierre’s death is happy with the recommendations in the First Nations Representations on Ontario Juries report.
“I am and I believe Lisa (Jacy’s mother) are very satisfied with his recommendations,” said Fort William’s Marlene Pierre, who won a landmark Court of Appeals case in 2011 along with Nishnawbe Aski Nation and the family of Reggie Bushie for a judicial review into the representativeness of the jury roll in the District of Thunder Bay. “We were very happy with the tone and the wording of all of the recommendations.”
Pierre said her family has waited for over five years for another coroner’s inquest into her grandson’s death from ingesting powdered methadone while in the Thunder Bay District Jail.
She walked out of the first inquest in 2009 over the coroner’s refusal to issue a summons for Robert Gordon, director of court operations for the North West Region, so the family could find out how the jury roll in the District of Thunder Bay was established.
“It’s been hard to do that as a family and still go on with life,” Pierre said. “Even with today’s release, we know this still has to go before the Attorney General. We know what the process is going to involve: it could take well over a year before we get an inquest date because they’re not going to call the date for our family and the other families involved until they do have a process very clearly outlined.”
The Court of Appeals decision called for a new inquest into the death of Pierre’s grandson over the coroner’s refusal in the first inquest to inquire into the representativeness of the jury roll.
“I would order that a summons be issued to Mr. Gordon (or his successor) to appear at the Reggie Bushie inquest and the Jacy Pierre inquest, and give evidence about the establishment of the jury roll in the District of Thunder Bay, and especially about the efforts to comply with s. 6(8) of the Juries Act and the results of those efforts,” stated Justice John Laskin in the Court of Appeal decision.
Pierre said the new inquest will likely be a difficult time for the family.
“Then we will come out with other recommendations, which will take an eon of time to implement,” Pierre said. “We want to know how and why drugs get into the Thunder Bay District Jail. We want to know what the District Jail has done over the past five years to improve that.”
Pierre said the family wants to see justice done in Jacy’s name.
“And we want to see justice for Aboriginal people and all the young people who end up in these institutions,” Pierre said.
Bushie was the fifth of seven NAN youth who died while attending secondary school in Thunder Bay. An inquest into his death has still not been heard.
A 15-year-old youth from Poplar Hill who was attending high school in Thunder Bay, Bushie went missing in the fall of 2007 and was found a week later in the McIntyre River in Thunder Bay, where he had apparently drowned.
The coroner ordered the inquest under s. 20 of the Coroners Act, which authorizes the holding of an inquest where doing so “would serve the public interest.”
The inquest was aimed at examining the circumstances surrounding Bushie’s death and how First Nations youths are affected when going to school far away from their home communities.
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