Day parole revoked for Nerissa Quewezance

 Shouldn’t affect application for ministerial review: lawyer

Nerissa Quewezance (left) and Odelia Quewezance. Photo: Submitted

Nerissa Quewezance has lost her day parole.

The decision came after a three-hour virtual hearing with Parole Board of Canada Board Member Ryan Nash.

Nash said Quewezance, a Saulteaux woman from Saskatchewan and one of Canada’s longest-serving female inmates, had breached her parole conditions one too many times.

Quewezance and her older sister, Odelia Quewezance, are serving a life sentence for the 1993 murder of Kamsack, Sask.-area farmer Anthony Joseph Dolff. The sisters say they are not guilty and have been wrongfully convicted.

It was their young cousin, Jason Keshane, who confessed to the crime. He has already served his sentence and been released.

But Nash said that background was not part of his decision to renew or rescind Nerissa’s day parole,which was suspended earlier this year.

“I am troubled by the lack of progress you have demonstrated since your original day (was) parole granted in 2018,” he told a virtual hearing Wednesday as Nerissa looked on.

“I find the fact that you are serving a life sentence and were unaccountable for your whereabouts for over two years is aggravating.”

Residential school survivor

Nash was told Nerissa didn’t like being supervised while on release.

Nerissa explained that as a residential school survivor she was triggered by the rules and curfews imposed on her as part of parole. She also had trouble, she said, accessing support on certain days.

She said she would do better if he let her out again with conditions.

“I was going to turn myself in within a day or two,” she said about the time she skipped paroled as a smudge burned in front of her on the table.

“I was really, really depressed. I was just waiting for the police to pick me up.”

But Nash wasn’t persuaded, saying her record indicated otherwise.

“Substance misuse, negative associates, lack of cooperation with supervision, put you on a pathway that could lead certainly to a re-offence, including one that includes aggression,” he said.

“I do find that that represents a significant concern to public safety.”

Remained calm

When Nash delivered his decision to rescind her parole, Nerissa remained calm and hugged the woman sitting next to her providing support. Nerissa is behind bars in southern British Columbia.

She was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant after disappearing on parole in the spring of 2020 when Toronto lawyer James Lockyer first took the case. Police caught up to her in Vancouver in December 2021.

Surprisingly, Lockyer won her day parole again later that month. But she violated her conditions six days later, the hearing was told.

Lockyer, who has asked Canada’s justice minister to quash the sisters’ convictions as a possible miscarriage of justice, said Nerissa can’t appeal the parole decision. But a spokesperson for the Parole Board said any decision regarding conditional release may be appealed.

“The appeal must be sent to the Parole Board of Canada Appeal Division in Ottawa within three months of the date of the decision,” said spokesperson Lisa Saether in an email.

Lockyer said the loss of parole shouldn’t affect the sisters’ application for a ministerial review of their case.

“There’s no reason at all why it should,” the lawyer said outside the hearing.

Justice Minister David Lametti received their request in January. He has referred their application to a lawyer for review.

Day parole

Odelia, meanwhile, was granted day parole in April 2022. She is at a women’s healing lodge in Winnipeg.

Dolff’s family has declined to speak publicly about the crime.

His granddaughter, whose identity is protected and was nine years old when he was killed, opposed releasing Nerissa on parole.

“We feel, once again, that our safety and security is in jeopardy with the prospect of the offender, who brutally murdered our loved one and is now attempting to murder him again by way of damaging his memory and spinning the facts of their crime, being paroled,” she said in an emotional victim impact statement delivered virtually at the hearing.

Online Journalist / Winnipeg

Award-winning reporter Kathleen Martens covers western and northern Canada for A veteran of the Brandon Sun, Sun Media and APTN Investigates, she is based in APTN’s head office, specializing in stories about property, women’s rights and community.