Imprisoned Cree mother prevented from attending 23 year-old son’s funeral

Connie Oakes sent a beaded hawk feather and starblanket which were buried with son

(Connie Oakes in an undated photo supplied by the family)

 Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
A Cree woman imprisoned for a murder she says she didn’t commit was denied a chance to attend the funeral of her 23 year-old son who was buried Wednesday in Nekaneet Cree Nation territory.

Connie Oakes managed to send a beaded hawk feather and a starblanket she crafted for her son Joseph Carry who was buried with the items, according to family members.

Oakes was prevented from attending Carry’s funeral by the National Parole Board who rejected her second compassionate leave application this week. The National Parole Board last week denied Oakes’ first compassionate leave application to see her son before he died.

Oakes’ physical fitness regime inside prison worked against her release, said one of her appeal lawyers Alexandra Simic.

“The National Parole Board claimed that because she was in such good shape, that they considered her to be a flight risk because she could run,” said Simic.

Carry died early Saturday morning from cancer, days after a Calgary judge issued a separate ruling against Oakes’ application for appeal bail.

Carry was given three weeks to live by his doctor in mid-April. He married his long-time sweet-heart on May 16. They have a two year-old son.

(Joseph Carry speaks about upcoming wedding and wanting to see his mother before his death. APTN/video)

Connie spoke to her family Wednesday morning and wept on the telephone from the Edmonton Women’s Institution which is about 700 kilometres northwest of Nekaneet, located  in Cypress Hills of southern Saskatchewan.

“She called me this morning crying and told me to say goodbye to Joe for her and to tell him that his mom loves him so much,” said Linda Oakes, who is Connie Oakes’ aunt.

“It is just a travesty that Connie has been denied this opportunity to see her son before he died and then to bid him farewell,” said Kim Pate, executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, who has known Oakes for several years.

Pate said prison staff was supportive of Oakes’ application. She said she knows of no instance where an imprisoned mother has ever attempted to escape while seeing a dying child or attending their funeral.

“No mother that I know of has ever attempted to escape in those instances,” said Pate, who filed a sealed affidavit in support of Oakes’ appeal application. “It think it is an absolutely unjust and unfair decision.”

Oakes is appealing her second degree murder conviction partly on a fresh evidence submission. The Crown’s main witness in Oakes’ murder trial now says she doesn’t believe Oakes was at the trailer where Medicine Hat, Alta., resident Casey Armstrong was found dead in his bathtub in May 2011.

Scott says in a sealed affidavit filed as part of Oakes’ appeal that Medicine Hat police fed her information about the case while she was stoned during interrogation sessions that lasted six months longer than disclosed to the defence before trial, according to a summary of the affidavit contained in the appeal application.

With no DNA, murder weapon or fingerprints, the police and Crown relied on Scott to build their case against Oakes. Scott, a self-described small time crack dealer with an IQ of 50, accused three other people of Armstrong’s murder before pointing the finger at Oakes.

Medicine Hat police could also never determine the source of a man’s size 11 bloody boot print found on the bathroom floor.

Oakes’ appeal hearing is scheduled for Nov. 12.

Oakes oldest son Jameson John was killed on Halloween in 2002, two weeks after Oakes stepped out of federal prison in Edmonton after serving a sentence for drug possession and trafficking.

She still has one son, Jared, who is 13.

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3 thoughts on “Imprisoned Cree mother prevented from attending 23 year-old son’s funeral

  1. I simply cannot understand why Connie Oakes was not granted permission to see her son before he died or to attend his funeral. Surely compassion must reign in such a case, especially where her apparent guilt has not been substantiated…no murder weapon, no DNA, nor fingerprints , etc. etc. This certainly smacks of racism…if this were a white person would the same ruling be applied. It seems that with a bodyguard she could have very safely attended the funeral or gone to visit her son before his death.

  2. I feel so sad for her. She lost 2 sons. One who was murdered and one who was taken by cancer. And from what I am reading about this story is that she didn’t kill the man. She is innocent of that. She is a strong woman to endure everything she has, and to pay for a crime she didn’t commit. I hope she has applied for the innocent persons and gets a big settlement. One day it will all work out for her. I will pray

  3. Pure racist judgement!! Where she gonna run but to her boy!! Stupid white jerks!! Another example of christian love!! Hoka!!

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