An inquest into the death of an Indigenous artist who died by suicide in a Thunder Bay, Ont., jail is hearing recommendations today on how governments and the justice system can better support the mental health of Indigenous people.
Moses Beaver, of Nibinamik First Nation, was 56-years-old when he was found unresponsive in a jail cell in February 2017 before being taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The inquest has heard Beaver’s family and other loved ones tried multiple times to find Beaver help for intergenerational trauma and his deteriorating mental health.
Lawyers for Beaver’s family and coroner’s counsel have put forward 46 recommendations for governments and other parties on how to better support Indigenous individuals.
They include suggestions that a mobile mental health clinic be created to provide early intervention care in a culturally competent way and that the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which represents 49 Ontario First Nations, be funded to develop an integrated, culturally safe mental health care plan for remote First Nations in northwestern Ontario.
Beaver was in a medical facility due to his mental health when he was arrested for allegedly assaulting a worker. his sons have told the inquest their father should have been taken to a hospital, and not a jail, at that time.
Jurors at the inquest have heard Beaver was put on suicide watch after arriving at the Thunder Bay jail, with someone supposed to check on him regularly, but the facility was overcrowded and short-staffed at the time.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2023.