LETTER: Justice for the families of Dwayne Simard, William Ahmo and Sagkeeng First Nation
The Honourable Bill Blair
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
The Honourable David Lametti
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
[Delivered Electronically] March 18, 2021
Re: Justice for the families of Dwayne Simard, William Ahmo and Sagkeeng First Nation
Dear Ministers Blair and Lametti,
Last week, the community of Sagkeeng First Nation mourned another death at the hands of Canada’s colonial justice system. Dwayne Simard died in custody at Stony Mountain Institution on March 1st. The cause of Dwayne’s death is still unknown. Dwayne’s lawyer has publicly stated his client expressed concern for his life while in custody and has called for the release of records to show whether Dwayne received the medical attention he needed. Dwayne died only a few weeks after the death of another Sagkeeng citizen, William Ahmo, at Headingley Correctional Centre. We still don’t know why William died, but we do know he lost his life after suffering life-threatening injuries following an “incident” with a corrections officer which required his hospitalization.
I am writing to demand justice for Sagkeeng First Nation and the families of Dwayne Simard and William Ahmo. In addition to the RCMP’s investigation into William Ahmo’s death and the Correctional Services Canada’s review of Dwayne Simard death, I join the Southern Chiefs’ Organization in calling for a full public inquiry into the deaths of Dwayne Simard and William Ahmo.
Indigenous peoples face far higher rates of incarceration and experience systemic police brutality. Your government must take action, including the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action in relation to Justice (25 through 42) and the MMIWG National Inquiry Calls for Justice 5.1 through 5.25 in relation to Justice. I also join Grand Chief Daniels in calling for a full review of racism in the justice system from policing to corrections. There must be justice for Dwayne Simard, William Ahmo, and countless other Indigenous lives taken at the hands of Canada’s colonial justice system.
Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre
NDP Critic for Children, Families, and Social Development