UBCIC Seeks Answers in Tragic Death of Indigenous Man in Custody in BC

News Release
November 22, 2022

UBCIC Seeks Answers in Tragic Death of Indigenous Man in Custody in BC

(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – November 22, 2022) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) was devastated to learn about the horrific death of Kendal Campeau, 31, of Yellow Quill First Nation at the Pacific Institution in Abbotsford, BC on November 14, 2021.

Yesterday, Prisoners’ Legal Services (PLS) issued a news release on their submission to Correctional Service Canada’s (CSC) National Board of Investigations, asking for answers into the prison-death of Mr. Campeau. PLS asked CSC to consider systemic abuse of Indigenous people in prison in its investigation. UBCIC supports the submission and PLS’s characterization of systemic abuse including the over-incarceration of Indigenous peoples, the ongoing legacy of separating Indigenous families, and the inhumane use of solitary confinement. PLS notes that Indigenous offenders are often placed in prisons far away from their home which is another devastating factor meant to isolate and alienate incarcerated peoples from their communities.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC President, stated, “We have long suffered at the hands of the Canadian legal systems and the creators of the laws that brand us as criminals of the state for merely existing. The incarceration of our peoples began with the creation of the reserve systems, then residential schools and now takes place through the child welfare system and the prison industrial complex. We are pushed around from system to system, facing abuse, racism, and violent mistreatment at every turn. We call on CSC and the Canadian government to reform the Prisons and Reformatories Act, Youth Criminal Justice Act, Juvenile Delinquents Act, and all other acts relating to the Canadian penal system to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) and to reflect a humane, just, culturally relevant, and accountable system of justice that enables healing, rehabilitation and reduces recidivism.”

“Canada’s history of incarcerating Indigenous peoples is rife with barbaric and archaic disciplinary measures. The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that the ongoing effects of colonialism are interconnected with residential schools, intergenerational trauma, systemic discrimination and racism, social and economic marginalization, destruction of culture, poverty, and inequitable opportunity as core causes of the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system,” stated Chief Don Tom, UBCIC Vice-President. “UBCIC extends our most sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Campeau and all other incarcerated Indigenous peoples and their families who have faced harm or loss of life at the hands of the Canadian government. We are grateful to Prisoners’ Legal Services for their advocacy on this issue.”

Kupki7 Judy Wilson, UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer, concluded, “The UN Declaration has been passed into law by Canada and this comes with obligations to recognize Indigenous peoples’ rights in all areas of law, including the criminal justice system. Canada’s history of incarcerating Indigenous peoples is not in compliance with the UN Declaration and the obligation to incorporate Indigenous rights and freedoms is fundamental to creating a just, democratic, humane, equal, and non-discriminatory system of law and policy and stop the overincarceration of and unnecessary deaths of Indigenous peoples in prison.”


Media inquiries:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, 250-490-5314
Chief Don Tom, Vice-President, 604-290-6083
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer, c/o 778-866-0548

UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

For more information, please visit www.ubcic.bc.ca

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