The Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO) is “demanding a thorough investigation” into the death of James Flatfoot at the Stony Mountain institution which is operated by the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC).
“First and foremost, I want to extend my condolences to James’ loved ones and to the community of Pine Creek,” Jerry Daniels, SCO grand chief said in a statement released Wednesday. “No matter what we eventually learn about his death, I know it will do little to soften the blow of this loss.”
According to the CSC, Flatfoot died on Jan. 23. He had been at Stony Mountain since Dec. 16, 2021.
“As in all cases involving the death of an inmate, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) will review the circumstances. CSC policy requires that the police and the coroner be notified,” said the CSC said in a release on Jan. 24. The RCMP is also part of the investigation.
The SCO said that Flatfoot was a member of Pine Creek First Nation and “leaves behind a large circle of family and friends, including a young daughter.”
“Earlier this week, I was commenting on the death of William Ahmo from Sagkeeng, while he was in custody, and now we hear about yet another one of our relatives dying while in the care of the so-called justice system,” Daniels said. “My question to those involved in this system is how many more times do we have to hear stories of First Nation men dying in jail?”
On Jan. 21, RCMP in Headingley, Man., charged a prison guard at a provincial jail, following an investigation into the death of Ahmo, 45, a father of one from Sagkeeng First Nation.
Robert Jeffrey Morden, 43, was charged with Criminal Negligence Causing Death and Failing to Provide the Necessities of Life.
“Following an extensive investigation by officers within Major Crime Services, a detailed investigative report was sent to the Manitoba Prosecution Service for opinion,” the police statement says.
According to the SCO, 75 per cent of adults admitted into custody are Indigenous and in the last ten years, there has been a 60 per cent increase in the incarceration rate of Indigenous men.
“One of our mandates at SCO is to create a supportive form of justice delivery for our people, by incorporating traditional systems of governance and law such as our Restorative Justice Program,” Daniels said in the statement. “We need to move beyond the colonial justice system and if we do that, we will reduce the overrepresentation of First Nation citizens within the mainstream criminal justice system, and save lives.”