First Nations leaders are demanding answers after a second man from Sagkeeng First Nation died while in custody in Manitoba.
Dwayne Simard, 37, died on Mar. 1 at the Stony Mountain Institution, located about 25 km north of Winnipeg, according to Correctional Service Canada (CSC).
Simard was brought into custody after a standoff with Winnipeg police two days prior to his death.
At the time Simard was wanted on several warrants and was considered “unlawfully at large.”
Simard is the second man to die while in custody in less than a month.
William Ahmo, 45, died on Feb. 14 in hospital after he was involved in an incident with guards at the Headingley Correctional Centre.
Sagkeeng First Nation Chief Derrick Henderson says both families are left with many questions.
“I’m sure they want answers. It’s always the end game. They need to know what happened. They need to know what’s going on,” Henderson told APTN News by phone Friday.
Southern Chiefs’ Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels is calling for a public inquiry into these incidents and the way the justice system treats Indigenous offenders.
“I’m not really confident in the system as it relates to creating or rehabilitation our citizens or even looking after the health and well-being of our citizens.”
Daniels says these deaths are examples of how systemic racism plays out in the colonial justice system.
“It begs the question of the treatment of our citizens by people who are being given the trust and the authority to look after our people in these institutions,” he says.
He believes a First Nations lead system needs to be implemented to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in all correctional facilities across the country.
Ahmo died while in custody at a provincial centre while Simard was at a federally run institution.
CSC has released a statement but gave no information other than to say a review is being conducted.
“CSC reviews the circumstances surrounding these incidents to determine if practices need improvement and to prevent reoccurrences,” a spokesperson said in an email.
They would not confirm Simard’s cause of death stating the police and coroner have been notified.
Both Ahmo and Simard’s deaths are under investigation.
“What I’m hoping and trusting is that the investigating departments or units that are investigating these instances are transparent and give a full report on what happened,” says Henderson.
Henderson along with Daniels met with representatives from Manitoba RCMP last month to speak about the investigation into Ahmo’s death.
Henderson says he “felt good” about the discussions but has not received anymore information relating to the investigation.