Aboriginal Legal Services, along with several Chiefs are calling for more severe criminal charges after the death of Curve Lake's Cileana Taylor.
Taylor, a 22 year old Indigenous-kwe, suffered a severe brain injury on Sept. 3, 2020. She was removed from life-support and passed to the spirit world on Feb 26.
Her then-partner Jordan Morin, 23, is charged with aggravated assault and assault causing bodily harm. He has been released on bail.
Grand Council Chief Glen Hare of the Anishnabek Nation along with Southeast Regional Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Marsden issued a joint statement on Tuesday calling for increased charged following the young Curve Lake First Nation woman's death.
“We support Cileana’s family and community in their call to upgrade the charges against Jordan Morin from aggravated assault to homicide for the brutal death of Cileana,” stated Grand Council Chief Hare who offered condolences to the Taylor family and the community of Curve Lake First Nation.
Grand Council Chief Hare also said all girls across the country are at risk of domestic violence, but First Nation women and girls are at a disproportionately higher risk.
“Another Kwe Warrior has left us too early. The family of Cileana Taylor and her community of Curve Lake First Nation deeply mourn her loss,” he added. Chief Glen Marsden believes the decision to grant Morin bail is wrong .
“If allowed out on bail, this man is free to inflict further harm upon other women,” said Marsden.
Aboriginal Legal Services issued a two-page statement stating the justice system continues to fail Indigenous women and fails to address the violence that exists.
“The family of Cileana Taylor call on Peterborough Police Services to increase the charges against Jordan Morin from aggravated assault on Cileana to homicide,” said Christa Big Canoe of Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS), the lawyer for the Taylor family.
Big Canoe points out Morin has been charged with new acts of violence since being released.
Chief Emily Whetung of Curve Lake First Nation and Chief Kelly LaRocca of the Mississauga’s of Scugog Island First Nation have also issued calls for justice.
“Aggravated assault is not enough when a young woman from our community has died. We call on the Crown Attorney to prosecute Mr. Morin for homicide,” says Chief Whetung. Chief LaRocca issued a statement on March 15, where she supported an online petition calling for stiffer charges.
Sandra Dueck, Communications coordinator with the Peterborough Police issued a press release on March 24 addressing the calls to elevate the charges against Morin.
“The Peterborough Police Service has heard the calls for elevated charges and recognizes the further hurt in our communities since the passing of Cileana Taylor last month,” stated the release.
The release noted the goal in any investigation is to pass on the best evidentiary-based information to the Crown Attorney so they can present the best possible case and potentially bring resolution for the victims and their families also.
READ THE FULL STATEMENT FROM POLICE HERE
“As you will be aware, with the matter before the courts there is not much on the specifics that can be said,” Dueck stated in an email.
Chief Whetung indicated that she cannot stop Morin from entering the First Nation and said until there is a residential by-law, which is being developed, not much that can be done, but instead issued a stern warning to Mr. Morin on March 22.
“We would prefer that he stay far away from Curve Lake First Nation and hope he receives the message that he is not welcome on our First Nation or on our territory."
Chief Whetung says she, along with the community, continue to support Cileana’s family and asks that all stand with the family as well with Curve Lake First Nation to let the world know that Cileana is a loss that must be accounted for.
“The loss of Clieana’s life is unacceptable to all of Curve Lake and today Curve Lake First Nation calls on the Crown Attorney to change the policy and be a part of turning the course of Canadian history and to demonstrate to the world that violence against Indigenous women is never acceptable. We recognize that the historic injustices against Indigenous people play a role in the higher rates of violence perpetrated against Indigenous women. But the systemic failures have not been corrected, and Cileana had value.”
“The fact that Mr. Morin gets to walk the streets since he (allegedly) assaulted my sister feels like he is being rewarded for criminal and harmful actions because he gets to live his life,” said Savannah Taylor, eldest sister of Cileana.
Since losing Cileana, Taylor says what’s so difficult is, Cileana was truly a kind individual who was always easy to be around and who saw the good in other people.
“As my younger sister, she was always part of my life. She was the best Auntie. She helped one of my sons feel safe and loved. She was the biggest help to us all and my son struggles not having the person that gave him so much of her time to him,” she said.
Taylor also said she worries about the safety of other women and her own children while Morin is on bail. “I for one do not feel safe walking the streets or surrounding communities with my children or as a woman, knowing he is free. We deserve safety and Cileana deserves justice,” she said.
She also said she and her family are grateful to their community, other communities and organizations for their support through their calls and petitions, indicating it’s the first time the family has put out a public call for justice. “We ask others to support our specific call for increased charges.”
Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Peterborough This Week