Mom wants answers on why daughter died in Regina remand centre

A Manitoba woman is demanding answers after her daughter died in a Regina remand centre cell last month — allegedly from drug withdrawal — while awaiting a bail hearing.

Possible drug withdrawal death of 21-year-old at White Birch Remand Centre under investigation

Sherri Chartrand's daughter Breanna Kannick died of what her mom believes was drug withdrawal in a cell in a Regina remand centre on Aug. 20. (Breanna Kannick/Instagram )

A Manitoba woman wants answers after her daughter died in a Regina remand centre cell last month — allegedly from drug withdrawal — while awaiting a bail hearing.

Sherri Chartrand got a call from her daughter, Breanna Kannick, on Monday, Aug. 17. The 21-year-old had been arrested for failing to appear in court. Kannick was facing drug possession charges and missed two court dates, in May and June.

"She was sobbing. She wanted to come home, and I said, 'Well, can I get you out today?' She said, 'Probably not.' Not until her bail hearing," said Chartrand. "She was scared, and she had never been in jail before."

Kannick's bail hearing wasn't scheduled until Thursday — but Chartrand got another call from her daughter on Tuesday. She was sick and going through withdrawal.

You let her go through withdrawal in that cell by herself, puking, kicking on the door, and nobody helped her.- Sherri Chartrand, mom of Breanna Kannick

"I knew my daughter was on cocaine and heroin. Even the withdrawal from cocaine can be quite major," said Chartrand. "She was dope sick. I asked her if she had a medical assessment. I said, 'Well didn't they give you anything?"

She said she asked to speak to the people guarding her daughter, but she was refused.

She started working on a plan to bring her daughter home to The Pas and enrol her in addiction treatment — she was just waiting for a Thursday morning call about the bail amount.

Instead, her own mother, Kannick's grandmother, called her in the afternoon to tell her Kannick had died.

"It was all over Facebook that my daughter was dead. I immediately started screaming and crying, and my boss brought me home," Chartrand said.

She contacted Moose Jaw police, who said they had had trouble getting hold of her. She was told Kannick died early in the morning.

"She was vomiting and kicking at the door for help," said Chartrand. "They performed CPR, which, CPR isn't going to do anything for someone going through withdrawal … by the time they got to her, they worked on her, but it was too late. She died in her cell."
Breanna Kannick was brought into custody for failing to appear in court on drug possession charges. Her mother says she was waiting for a bail hearing so she could get her daughter out of jail and into addictions treatment. (Breanna Kannick/Instagram)

Officials with Saskatchewan's Ministry of Justice said police are investigating, and the ministry itself will conduct an internal investigation. The coroner's office will also do a review.

Drew Wilby, with the Saskatchewan justice ministry, said specific details about the case couldn't be released, because it remains under investigation, but "this incident is terribly unfortunate and of course our thoughts and prayers are with this young lady's family and friends."

"Obviously our staff relied on their training," said Wilby. "They discovered that she went into distress. They performed CPR and tried to revive her. Our internal investigation will determine what occurred there and if there is anything we can learn from that …. We are hoping to have it done as soon as possible."

Wilby said it is standard practice to do a medical history evaluation as soon as possible with offenders that are kept at the facility. 

Facility staff do a "standardized medical assessment" when offenders arrive, but nurses and paramedics are not involved in that initial assessment, he said. 

'Within an hour, my whole life changed'

Chartrand said she is tremendously upset.

"One day I'm speaking to my daughter on the phone and waiting to get her out of jail and to get her some help and thinking she's finally going to come home," she said.
The White Birch Remand Centre for women is located in the west end of Regina. (Arielle Zerr/CBC)

"Within an hour, my whole life changed. I don't want this to happen to anyone else ever …. She should have had 24-hour medical care. If they [had] done an assessment, they would have known she was a heroin addict."

Chartrand said she believes the guards are responsible for her daughter's death.

"You're the ones that killed my daughter. You killed her. You let her go through withdrawal in that cell by herself, puking, kicking on the door and nobody helped her. I said, 'You basically killed my daughter,'" said Chartrand.

The facility where Kannick died is new.

The White Birch Remand Centre opened last year and has 18 beds for women awaiting court appearances. Prior to its opening, women were held in cells at RCMP detachments.

Wilby said deaths in correctional facilities in Saskatchewan are rare.

"We had a young offender who went into distress in one of our young offender facilities in Saskatoon earlier this summer [and] was taken to hospital and unfortunately passed away in hospital. The one previous to that was in 2013 in Prince Albert," said Wilby.


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