Marlene Carter to remain in Saskatchewan once federal sentence expires – for now

“It’s left a door open for a return to Ontario … I don’t even want to contemplate that.”

Marlene Carter spends most of her days in restraints like see here in January. Jason Leroux/APTN photo.

A Cree woman with mental health issues from Saskatchewan will be allowed to stay in her home province at least until next summer.

There was some concern last month that when Marlene Carter’s federal sentence ends in January, she would have been sent back to a mental health centre in Ontario that didn’t want her back.

That’s because the Attorney General for Saskatchewan hadn’t signed off on her staying in Saskatchewan.

But according to Carter’s lawyer, she’ll be sent to a mental health hospital in North Battleford, Sask. at the end of next month.

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It was agreed upon at recent hearing, however it comes with a catch – a six-month review period.

“It’s left a door open for a return to Ontario which of course … I don’t even want to contemplate that,” said Carter’s lawyer Michael O’Shaughnessy.

If it doesn’t go well at the North Battleford hospital, O’Shaughnessy said it’s possible Carter could be sent back to Ontario, and to the Brockville Mental Health Centre.

Marlene Carter as she used to appear and how she looks now after years behind bars.

Carter was sent to Brockville in the summer of 2014 from the Regional Psychiatric Centre (RPC) in Saskatoon to take part in what was supposed to be a new federal program to help mentally-ill female inmates.

The doctor who ran it said the federal government never funded it properly, so he was limited in how much he could help Carter. That story can be read here.

While there, Carter was convicted of assaulting nursing staff but was found not criminally responsible placing her also under the authority of the Ontario Review Board, which is in charge of NCR cases in Ontario. She then became a duo-status offender, meaning once her federal sentence expired, Carter would still be under the authority of the Ontario Review Board, which would have final say on her release back into the community.

The original criminal sentence stems from time when she was at RPC before being sent to Brockville.

Her time at RPC, before the transfer to Brockville, has been well documented. Carter was kept in restraints for more than two years as she was prone to hurt herself by smashing her face on hard surfaces and assaulting staff and fellow inmates.

Saskatchewan tried to have her declared a dangerous offender but failed.

The Ontario Review Board decided last January it was best Carter be sent back to RPC, hoping being close to her family would help with her progress. It was also known that nurses at the Brockville centre filed complaints against the hospital for not properly preparing them for Carter.

Carter is a member Onion Lake First Nation – her sisters, brother and step-mother all live in the area.

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Investigative Reporter

Kenneth Jackson is an investigative reporter in Ottawa, Ont. with more than two decades in the business. He got his start in community newspapers before joining the Ottawa Sun in 2007 where he worked the police beat. In 2011, Jackson joined APTN to break the Bruce Carson scandal. The former senior aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried using his contacts in the federal government to sign water deals with First Nations. The RCMP would charge Carson with influence peddling based on APTN’s reporting. The case would make it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which upheld his conviction in 2018. In recent years, Jackson has focused, almost exclusively, on the child welfare system in Ontario. The work has earned multiple awards, including the 2020 Michener Award.