Mother of drowned Regina teenager pushes for an inquest into his death

The mother of a teenager whose drowning death in an east Regina creek was ruled accidental is renewing her calls for an inquest into the matter.

The Canadian Press
The mother of a teenager whose drowning death in an east Regina creek was ruled accidental is renewing her calls for an inquest into the matter.

Richelle Dubois was the one who found her 14-year-old son, Haven, in Pilot Butte Creek in May 2015.

At a news conference Wednesday, Dubois said she still has a lot of unanswered questions.

She has suggested in the past she was being treated unfairly because she is Indigenous, and on Wednesday said she still has concerns about what she feels were delayed police action, lack of communication and the coroner’s report.

She has been successful in her request to have four parts of the coroner’s report changed to indicate that marijuana use the day of death was not a factor nor did Haven have some reaction to the drug.

In a March 2017 letter, acting chief coroner Shelley Ann Gibson told Dubois an inquest wouldn’t be called unless new evidence is uncovered.

“I have to go forward, I have to keep fighting this,” said Dubois. “I feel like such an injustice was done to my son.”

A statement released by the Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism suggested the concerns raised by Dubois are similar to those expressed by the family of Nadine Machiskinic.

The 29-year-old died in January 2015 after plunging 10 storeys down a hotel laundry chute. A fatality inquest earlier this year found it could not determine the cause of her death.

Testimony indicated she was a long-time drug user and had alcohol, methadone and three other drugs in her system at the time of her death. But Machiskinic’s family has questioned how she fit through the opening of the laundry chute and why it took police 60 hours to launch an investigation.

Tony Merchant, the lawyer representing the family in a civil lawsuit against the Delta Hotel, has said the investigation into her death was botched and race played a factor, suggesting “if that had been a white woman working at SaskPower, they would have been all over the investigation.”

Regina police Chief Evan Bray has defended his officers in both investigations.

“Every bit of information that we got we investigated,” he said of the probe into Haven’s death. “Unfortunately investigations doesn’t always give us all the answers, and I think that’s where some of the frustration lies.”

On Wednesday, both Bray and Mayor Michael Fougere offered to assist Dubois with contacting the Ministry of Justice for an inquest.

“We need to try to help the family get to a point where they can get some closure on this and I’m committed to doing that,” Bray said.

Justice Minister Gordon Wyant said he’s open to a meeting with the family but said it’s “too early for me to make a decision as to whether or not an inquest should be held.”


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