In 2008,the Coroner’s Inquest into the Deaths of Jamie Goodwin and Ricardo Wesley (the Kashechewan Inquest) revealed that the Kenora Judicial District jury roll had systematically underrepresented First Nations from jury participation.It was discovered that the Kenora Judicial District jury roll only contained names of First Nations people from 14 of NishnawbeAski Nation’s (NAN’s) 49 First Nations, and that members of Kashechewan First Nation had never been included on a jury roll.
Since then, aNAN-led a coalition began questioning the exclusion of First Nations on jury rolls and the legality of Ontario jury rolls, and requested that the Ontario Attorney General conduct a formal inquiry into the jury roll system.
On March 10, 2011, NAN and two First Nation families won a landmark Court of Appeal judgment recognizing their right to conduct inquiries into the validity of juries empanelled in the Thunder Bay Judicial District.The appeals followed the refusals by the presiding coroners at the Inquest into the Death of Reggie Bushie and the Inquest into the Death of Jacy Pierre to summons the court official responsible for assembling the Thunder Bay jury roll.
On August 11, 2011, the Government of Ontario announced the appointment of former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci to inquire into, and report on, First Nation representation on Ontario jury rolls.This inquiry marks the first time that the absence of First Nations from the jury processes in Canada has been the central subject of inquiry by an independent body.
Mr. Iacobucci will work independently from the Attorney General, and will inquire into, and report on, the extent of the exclusions. He will also propose solutions to ensure an enhanced First Nations representation on the jury roll.
NAN has fought for years to uncover the truth about the systematic exclusion of First Nations from the Ontario justice system, and will play a lead role in this process in consultation with in NAN communities.
More information: http://fcbarristers.com/Falconer/index.html