The jury recommends a memorial honoring the Inuk man who died in Gravenhurst prison

To commemorate the life of Mark Jeffrey, a 34-year-old Inuk man who took his own life while he was detained at the Beaver Creek Institution, the jury presiding over an investigation into his death would like to see a memorial created in his honor.

The recommendation pays tribute to Jeffrey and “His dedication and advocacy for the Inuit in custody.”

After eight days of testimony and arguments from lawyers and other representatives of the four parties that were granted standing in the investigation, the jury presented 19 recommendations that include improvements, reinforced and frequent training for Correctional Service of Canada staff, more collaboration with indigenous and Inuit organizations in policy formulation, and more inclusion with indigenous and Inuit staff on the ground in federal prisons.

Training at Inuit centers of excellence like Beaver Creek must include all staff who are involved with Inuit criminals, the jury said.

The training should include cultural awareness, mental health first aid for Inuit, addictions and drug awareness, as well as the history of colonialism, intergenerational trauma, training against racism and prejudice.

Correctional Services Canada must “distinguish between First Nations, Inuit and Métis realities,” the jury wrote, and “recognize that indigenous elders and liaison officers support the mental health of indigenous peoples in custody and they also offer spiritual support. “

The jury recommended that Increase Inuit-specific services. including elders, Inuit liaison officers and the use of technology to maintain access to such resources, as well as to make them available “when a shocking recommendation or decision is made.”

The jury further recommended that Elders and liaison officers be part of case management teams, to address payment delays, that cultural restoration alternatives be considered for indigenous peoples in custody, and that all assessments related to the correctional or healing plan is clearly documented.

They also recommended that Correctional Services Canada explore ways to address barriers to the recruitment of Inuit elders, Inuit liaison officers and Inuit staff in prisons such as Beaver Creek, considered an “Inuit Center of Excellence.”

Other recommendations called for steps to be taken for Inuit in custody to maintain family and community connections, including building relationships with Inuit communities and organizations and recognizing the nature of isolation that Inuit face in federal prisons, all located in southern Canada.

Before his death, Mark Jeffrey had received approval to transfer to Waseskun Healing Center, a healing lodge in Quebec, and was later denied that option as a result of “misconduct”. The jury recommended that Correctional Services Canada work in partnership with healing lodges “to ensure that an indigenous person’s healing plan is not interrupted.”

In addition to transfer policies, the jury recommended that Inuk and Indigenous men in custody be given priority to remain in Beaver Creek or other prisons considered Inuit centers of excellence.

A recommendation was made that mental health professionals collaborate with indigenous health professionals to assess whether suicide prevention tools need to be updated to reflect factors of indigenous social history and indigenous realities such as disproportionate suicide rates among Inuit.

Some feasibility studies were also recommended.

It was suggested that the possibility of moving the “Inuit Center of Excellence” to a prison closer to Ottawa, where the largest Inuit community outside of Nunavut resides, be explored.

Another recommends exploring the idea that Inuit can serve federal sentences in an existing institution in Nunavut and one suggested exploring the possibility of creating a healing lodge in Ontario and a specific lodge for Inuit in Nunavut or Ottawa.

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