Domestic homicides review not in works yet, says Sask. government

The Ministry of Justice says it is considering options for a formal review of domestic homicides. Saskatchewan has the highest rate of homicides by intimate partners of any Canadian province.

Government pressured to call review of why Saskatchewan has such a high rate of domestic homicides

Six women have been murdered in Saskatchewan in the past year alone, all allegedly by intimate partners or ex-partners.

A network of 21 women's shelters and family violence outreach agencies across Saskatchewan has issued the latest call for a formal review of domestic homicides.

In May, a special report by CBC News revealed that Saskatchewan has the highest rate of homicides by intimate partners among Canadian provinces, and yet, unlike other provinces, it has never formally reviewed any killing of that kind.

The coroner's office has also never made recommendations on how to prevent domestic homicides.

In the past year alone, six women have been murdered, all believed to have been killed by their current or former boyfriend or husband,.

The Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS) has since sent a letter to the Ministry of Justice calling on the provincial government to investigate each death.

"It is clear that we need to work together to find ways of preventing future tragedies," Jo-Anne Dusel, provincial coordinator for PATHS writes in the letter.  
PATHS coordinator Jo-Anne Dusel is calling on the provincial government to review domestic homicides. (Aldo Columpsci/CBC News)

While homicides are the worst case scenario, domestic abuse professionals point out there are also many incidents of attempted murder and aggravated assault.

PATHS is a network of transition houses and emergency shelters that serves nearly two thousand women and children a year. It also includes counseling services for perpetrators, both women and men.

Death Review Committee

In its letter to the province, PATHS said Saskatchewan should follow the example of other provinces — Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and New Brunswick — which have established some kind of Domestic Violence Death Review Committee. Ontario reviews every domestic homicide, about 30 a year, 

"It is necessary that law enforcement, the justice system, and domestic violence professionals work together," Dusel said.

In an email to CBC News, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said it is "reviewing potential options for Saskatchewan." It is looking at domestic violence reviews in other provinces to help determine whether something similar would help in this province.

Victim needs a voice

On Thursday, the family of murder-suicide victim Shirley Parkinson publicly called for a review of every case.

Parkinson was killed by her husband of 27 years, Donald, before he killed himself, on their acreage near Unity, Sask.

"The victim doesn't have a voice," Shirley Parkinson's sister, Mariann Rich, told CBC News. As a nurse, she believes a formal review could examine how the health system could serve victims and perpetrators.

Inquest possible

The Chief Coroner Kent Stewart told CBC News in May that he didn't think Saskatchewan had the numbers in the past to warrant a review, but the recent deaths had convinced him it was a critical issue. 
Saskatchewan's Chief Coroner, Kent Stewart, says recent spate of domestic homicides in province is a "wake up call." (CBC)

This week, the coroner's office confirmed it is still actively investigating two murder-suicides; one that killed Sharon Ann Kinequon in Melfort in January, the other that left Latasha Gosling and her three children dead in Tisdale in April.

Stewart hasn't decided yet whether to hold inquests into those cases.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.