Nunavut will hold an inquest into the death of Makibi Timilak, after the three-month-old boy's family made a formal request to the territory's minister of justice.

The baby died April 5, 2012, after Debbie McKeown, a nurse at the Cape Dorset Health Centre, allegedly refused to see him, contrary to government policy. McKeown was later promoted to running the health centre.

Another nurse who had previously filed complaints about McKeown, Gwen Slade, has said her concerns were ignored by Nunavut health officials and that she was punished for speaking out.

Chief coroner Padma Suramala issued a press release Tuesday stating the inquest is "to review the circumstances surrounding the reportable death of baby Makibi Timilak.

"The specific date of the inquest will be determined once further logistics have been confirmed."

An independent review looking into the circumstances surrounding the infant's death was prompted by a CBC News investigation.

The report, authored by Katherine Peterson, contained dozens of recommendations, including a call for a coroner's inquest.

In response, the Nunavut government said the decision on whether to hold an inquest would be left up to the family.

Luutaaq Qaumagiaq, the baby's father, sent a letter recently to Justice Minister Paul Okalik requesting that he call an inquest.

"It was just a matter of putting it in writing," said South Baffin MLA David Joanasie, who helped the family draft the letter. 

"They had time to think it over thoroughly as a family and so I'm glad that they have decided to go ahead with it and I support their decision."

Letter sent

"A formal inquest into the death of baby Makibi should be convened to review the facts associated with the provision of care and the medical opinions as to the cause of death," reads Qaumagiaq's letter to Okalik, quoting Peterson's report.

"I therefore respectfully request that you exercise your ministerial authority under section 24 of the Coroners Act to direct that a formal inquest be held into this matter," Qaumagiaq wrote.

According to Sec. 24 of the act, the chief coroner or the minister responsible for the chief coroner can call an inquest, and the inquest can be presided over by a coroner or by a Nunavut judge.

The act also stipulates a coroner would be prohibited from presiding over an inquest if the coroner's conduct or that of the coroner's employer might be in question in relation to the death.

Qaumagiaq previously called for Nunavut's chief coroner, Padma Suramala, to be fired over her handling of the investigation into his son's death.

Suramala initially attributed the baby's death to sudden infant death syndrome, but later signed off on an autopsy report by an Ottawa pathologist who concluded that the infant had died of a widespread viral infection in both lungs.

After a second Ottawa pathologist reviewed the original autopsy results and found no evidence of a viral infection, Suramala classified the death as "undetermined."

The inquest is set to take place in Cape Dorset. Two inquests are already scheduled this year. 

Okalik said Nunavut inquests to date "have been held with our contract with the N.W.T. so they are normally held by a different coroner in these situations."

He said he has directed the Health Department to provide counselling services and support for the family during the inquest.

"It's their decision and I will support them and make sure that it happens," he said.

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