Judith Sayers, 2018 president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, is calling for RCMP to review the way they deal with intoxicated people in jail. FILE PHOTO

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council calls for review of RCMP conduct against Indigenous people

Police need to check how they deal with people in their jails, NTC president says

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council is calling for a review of police conduct toward Indigenous people after the Independent Investigation Office cleared Port Alberni RCMP members following the in-custody death of 18-year-old Jocelyn Nynah Marsha George in June 2016.

Tribal Council president Judith Sayers said the RCMP needs to review its own policies on how members deal with intoxicated individuals in their jails. She will be recommending that the NTC formally approach the RCMP asking for a review.

RELATED: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council ‘disappointed’ in IIO results

RELATED: RCMP cleared in 2016 in-custody death of teen

“We’ll bring it to the directors for their consideration,” Sayers said. “I think it’s a good idea. We have to make preventative measures and it’s clear they aren’t working.

“I think we could look at things in a much more comprehensive way.”

George had been in jail at the Port Alberni RCMP detachment twice over the space of a day and a half in late June 2016 when she was taken to West Coast General Hospital in medical distress, then airlifted to Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria. She died the night of June 24, 2016, of heart failure. The IIO investigated whether the RCMP failed to provide the necessaries of life to George; the acting watch commander did not personally check on her, as policy dictates, and a request to “push food and fluid” was also ignored. A coroner’s report noted George died of drug-induced myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) due to the toxic effects of methamphetamine and cocaine, and that minimal food and water intake was not a contributing factor in her death.

The NTC announced in a statement Tuesday that it would like to see comprehensive procedures to perform regular personal checks on individuals taken into custody that are clearly intoxicated or under the influence of drugs to ensure their condition is not deteriorating and impairing the health of the individual.

“I think they should be working with medical people to say how often (incarcerated persons) should be checked. If (Jocelyn George) had been checked sooner, would it have helped?

“This is the third Nuu-chah-nulth person that has died in cells. We want to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Sayers said.

Police services in Canada are in need of a thorough review of their policies and procedures, she said, especially in light of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women report and the sheer number of women listed as missing or murdered. Sayers said society needs to start questioning whether enough preventative work is being done, asking what police procedures are and whether they are good enough.

“I don’t know that we’ve got the answers, but certainly if we work with the RCMP, get medical people involved…let’s just make this better.”

Sayers said there is an opportunity to work with the IIO and ensure that its operation reflects reconciliation and respect of Indigenous Peoples.

Chief Richard Lucas of the Hesquiaht First Nation said Jocelyn George’s family is upset with the findings of the IIO report, and feel that George’s treatment while in police custody was “discriminatory and unfair.

“The family asked was she moving or was she twitching (in the jail cell),” Lucas said. “The family asked don’t you think it would have been appropriate to go into the jail cell and check her? It was something that could have helped, at least to check to make sure she was OK and not twitching.”

While paramedics and police officers were interviewed for the inquiry, Lucas said the family members at the hospital were not interviewed, and that doesn’t sit well with them.

“We have a lot of stories of people that have died in jail cells,” added Lucas.

Les Doiron, president of the Yuulu?il?ath (Ucluelet) First Nation, also called for a full inquiry into George’s death. One of Doiron’s brothers died in a Vancouver jail cell in 1980 at the age of 20, and Doiron said society needs to take a hard look at how it deals with people who are incarcerated.

“I find it very disturbing that there’s nothing in place to have any type of protection for a person that’s been put into a jail and ends up dying,” Doiron said. “There doesn’t seem to be any responsibility attached to the RCMP…It seems like the RCMP is investigating themselves.

“When a young teenage girl of 18 dies in a jail cell, we in a so-called civilized society need to step back and look at ourselves,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “How did she end up there? What was done to help her? What and how can the system improve?

“I’m still asking these questions from 1980, and today I have to ask them again…A young life gone too soon.”

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Ucluelet gets ready to celebrate Ukee Days

“There is nowhere that does an event quite like Ukee Days.”

Florencia beach clean near Tofino draws awesome crowd

Visitors from as far as Hawaii, Philippines, and Venezuela pitch in at Surfrider event.

Campfire ban coming into effect across West Coast

The Coastal Fire Centre says bans will begin on Wednesday

West Coast leaders fear orca habitat protection could bring fishery closures

Ucluelet demands extension to DFO consultation process

BC Games: Dance, spoken-word highlights at Opening Ceremony in Cowichan

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

B.C. city wants pot punted from farmland

Concerned about conversion from growing food to making marijuana

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Canadian government threatens to retaliate if Trump imposes auto tariffs

U.S president had suggested that auto imports pose a national security risk to the U.S.

Wildfire evacuation order forces bride to search for new wedding venue

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is under an order due to the Mount Eneas wildfire south of Peachland

Recent online kitten abuse video raises serious social media questions

UBC and UFV profs weigh in on the subject of online sharing, shaming, and our digital landscape

UPDATED: ICBC fights back against claims that it’s ‘ripping off’ B.C. RV drivers

Canadian Taxpayers Federation is urging the provincial government to open up ICBC to competition

Summerland issues State of Local Emergency in response to wildfire

Two homes under evacuation order; evacuation alert remains in place as result of wildfire

Most Read