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CKW Inquest

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

On the morning of September 22, 2015, in rural Renfrew County, Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam were murdered by a man with whom each had had a past relationship. The perpetrator was arrested later that day and has been imprisoned ever since. In 2019, the coroner’s office announced that the province would hold an inquest into the murders. That inquest – the CKW inquest -- took place in June 2022. The five-person jury, after listening to three weeks of testimony and reviewing voluminous written exhibits, returned with a verdict that included 86 recommendations for change.

Of the 86 recommendations, 68 were directed at the provincial government across a range of topics: oversight and accountability; funding; education and training; measures addressing perpetrators of IPV; intervention and safety. Five recommendations related to gun control were directed to the Chief Firearms Officer; three about the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee (DVDRC) and one calling to have femicide added to the categories of causes of death were aimed at the Office of the Chief Coroner, and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario was directed to support professionals in making informed decisions about privacy, confidentiality, and public safety. The federal government received five recommendations focused on changes to the Criminal Code, the timely implementation of the National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Violence Against Women and the establishment of a royal commission to make the criminal system more victim-centric. Finally, the jury recommended that the inquest parties reconvene in one year’s time to discuss the progress made in implementing the recommendations.

Inquest jury recommendations are non-binding, which means the government and other entities to which recommendations are directed have no legal obligation to implement them. Since 2015, the year of the Renfrew County triple homicide, at least 273 women have been killed in acts of femicide. As the reports of the DVDRC tell us again and again, the vast majority of domestic homicides are both predictable and preventable. Implementation of the 86 recommendations produced by the jury in this most recent inquest would move us well along the right path to significantly reducing the number of women and children killed in this province. We need to provide the leadership to ensure that these recommendations, which have the potential to save many lives, will be implemented.

Recommendation #1 – Intimate Partner Violence declared an Epidemic

Inquest recommendation #1 calls for the provincial government to declare intimate partner violence an epidemic, but there is no need to wait for the province to do this.

Erin Lee, Executive Director of Lanark County Interval House, stated: “Communities across this Province are leading with municipality after municipality joining the call to declare IPV an epidemic. It is only when we are able to see and name what is happening all around us every day that we can begin to create the change that survivors need and deserve.”

A declaration of an epidemic, while largely symbolic, uses a public health framework to help survivors and bring attention to the issue as a sociological phenomenon. This declaration would open the door to amend existing progress and create new opportunities, such as increased funding to support an effective organization that improves the safety and experience of women (the use of the term women to include all self-identified women including two-spirited, cisgender or transgender women) and their children as they proceed through the family law process after leaving an abusive relationship. This organization would work collaboratively with current community services to provide awareness, education, promotion of services and user-friendly resources on the intersection of family law and family violence. IPV is a major issue that permeates every aspect of life, from housing and food security to health, education, and the overall economy.

The full verdict that included 86 recommendations for change can be viewed here.

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