Q&A: Chief coro­ner Dirk Huyer on the up­com­ing in­quest

Toronto Star - - NEWS - This in­ter­view has been edited and con­densed for clar­ity and length.

Dr. Dirk Huyer took over as chief coro­ner for On­tario in March 2014, two years af­ter his pre­de­ces­sor called for a com­bined in­quest into deaths of seven abo­rig­i­nal youths in Thun­der Bay.

Why has it taken so long to launch this in­quest?

The process has been long for a num­ber of rea­sons. One sig­nif­i­cant rea­son is that seven youths have un­for­tu­nately died and that re­quires sig­nif­i­cant re­sources to try and un­der­stand the cir­cum­stances and pre­pare the ev­i­dence that needs to be brought for­ward for the in­quest.

There were also is­sues with the First Na­tions rep­re­sen­ta­tive­ness on in­quest ju­ries that con­trib­uted as well, to some ex­tent. But that was one fac­tor among many.

There have been great ef­forts to bring abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple onto ju­ries over the past few years — a spe­cial gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion, a team trav­el­ling to re­serves to sign up new jurors. Have they worked?

The con­cern was that ju­ries where First Na­tions is­sues were be­ing ex­plored were not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the com­mu­nity. First Na­tions peo­ple on re­serves were not in­cluded in the jury se­lec­tion process at all. Now we’ve moved to draw from a list of vol­un­teers to ex­pand the list of po­ten­tial jurors that are made avail­able to us. So it’s not the jury it­self that might have rep­re­sen­ta­tives, it’s that the list that the jury is drawn from is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the com­mu­nity.

Has the jury been cho­sen yet? Are there many abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple in­cluded?

We can’t pro­ceed un­til we have a jury. That se­lec­tion process is in mo­tion, and there will be a jury avail­able for Oct. 5. But I can’t tell you right now the ex­act make-up of the in­quest jury.

What ques­tions does the in­quest seek to an­swer?

The idea is to have a col­lab­o­ra­tive, co-op­er­a­tive fact-find­ing process that an­swers ques­tions about the cir­cum­stances of each of the seven deaths, but also pro­vides the jury the op­por­tu­nity to make rec­om­men­da­tions to try and re­duce the chance of sim­i­lar deaths in the fu­ture. So there are two as­pects: the ques­tions and the rec­om­men­da­tions.

The ques­tions at­tempt to an­swer who died, where they died, when they died, the med­i­cal cause of death and the way the death oc­curred (ac­ci­dent, nat­u­ral, sui­cide, homi­cide). Most of the time that’s more straight­for­ward, and the rec­om­men­da­tions are the more chal­leng­ing as­pect that arises out of the ev­i­dence pre­sented at the in­quest.

What hap­pens to the rec­om­men­da­tions once they’re pro­duced?

They’re rec­om­men­da­tions to in­form and sug­gest change. And the or­ga­ni­za­tions and gov­ern­men­tal branches that those are di­rected to are asked to pro­vide a re­sponse — but they aren’t bind­ing. Those re­sponses that we ask for are made avail­able to the public.

On­tario chief coro­ner Dr. Dirk Huyer took on his post in March of 2014.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.