Prince Albert Grand Council asks for answers after 2 in-custody deaths occur within days

·1 min read
Prince Albert police say violent crime is down so far this year but many of these cases involve gang activity.  (Prince Albert Police Service - image credit)
Prince Albert police say violent crime is down so far this year but many of these cases involve gang activity. (Prince Albert Police Service - image credit)

The Prince Albert Grand Council is asking questions about two in-custody deaths that happened earlier this month.

The deaths are under investigation by the Prince Albert Police Service and RCMP.

On Oct. 5, a 29-year-old man was in medical distress as the Prince Albert police investigated a disturbance at the Victoria Hospital. After being transferred to a Saskatoon hospital, he was pronounced dead.

On Oct. 8, Prince Albert police arrested a 35-year-old man. After being remanded into custody, he was found unresponsive in his police cell on Oct. 11. He was transported to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte said these deaths are unacceptable, especially because he has not seen recommendations from past inquests followed.

PAGC Vice Chief Joseph Tsannie said in a press conference earlier today that these deaths are indicative of a greater issue.

"This is our home. We've been here for thousands of years and when we signed the Treaty, the RCMP was there to protect our people, our families, to help us," he said.

"It seems like with the laws that are being drafted, a lot of our First Nation communities are struggling to get the services that are needed. And it's not just the police, it's the health system."

Coroner's inquests are mandatory in this province when deaths occur in custody. The exception is when the person dies of natural causes that are not preventable.

The grand council said an inquest under the direction of the Chief Coroner of Saskatchewan will take up to two years before details become public. It's asking for transparency and accountability during this process.

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