Shaldon Wabason murder trial stayed due to jury roll concerns

A murder trial in Thunder Bay was stayed this week after the defence lawyer argued that the jury roll does not adequately represent First Nations people living on-reserve.

CBC News has learned a murder trial scheduled to start this month in Thunder Bay has been stayed for one year.

Shaldon Wabason's trial was scheduled to begin next Tuesday, but his lawyer argued the jury roll in Thunder Bay doesn't adequately represent First Nations people living on-reserve.

Superior Court Justice John McCartney agreed, saying the Court Services Division has not done enough to address the issue.

Wabason is facing charges of second degree murder and break and enter from an incident in 2011.

Delmar Doucette represents Shaldon Wabason, whose second-degree murder trial has been stayed due to concerns about a lack of First Nations representation on the jury roll. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

Defence counsel Delmar Doucette told the CBC on Thursday that the decision could impact other criminal trials and coroner's inquests.

"So it'll be up to individuals whose loved ones have died who are having inquests, or up to First Nations persons who are charged, whether they wish to raise this issue and rely upon this judgment by Justice McCartney to say that the matter can't go forward." 

Doucette said when the 2015 jury roll is released later this year, he will review it. He said if it is still not representative, he will challenge it again.

The absence of First Nations participation on juries is a longstanding issue that was highlighted in a report last year by retired Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci. 

Iacobucci said the justice system continued to fail First Nations people, and called for immediate action.