N.W.T. gov't settles lawsuit over alleged sexual abuse at Yellowknife jail

The N.W.T. Supreme Court dismissed plaintiff Kelly Canadian's action, with consent from the lawyers for both Canadian and the territorial government.

N.W.T. Supreme Court dismisses plaintiff Kelly Canadian's action with consent of plaintiff and defendant

Kelly Canadian alleged the N.W.T. government was negligent and breached its duty to protect him while he was incarcerated at the North Slave Correctional Complex in 2016 and 2017. (Garrett Hinchey/CBC)

The Northwest Territories government has settled a lawsuit related to alleged sexual abuse at the jail in Yellowknife.

Kelly Canadian alleged the N.W.T. government was negligent and breached its duty to protect him while he was incarcerated, which resulted in his repeated sexual abuse at the hands of a corrections employee at the North Slave Correctional Complex in 2016 and 2017. 

In a Feb. 7, 2019, statement of claim, Canadian said he suffered physical and psychological pain, and lasting trauma, as a result of the alleged abuse. He sued for $1.25 million.

The territorial government, represented by the commissioner of the Northwest Territories, denied the allegations and pressed for Canadian's claim to be dismissed.

According to a consent dismissal order filed in the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories on Dec. 7, 2021, lawyers for the territorial government and for Canadian agreed to dismiss Canadian's claim. 

Canadian, though, says another agreement was reached outside of court.

"Basically, we settled at the beginning of December for an undisclosed amount, and due to confidentiality clauses, I cannot disclose the amount we settled for, and they have denied any wrongdoing and liability," he said on Thursday.

Canadian said he's "a little upset" that the government denies it did anything wrong, but added, "I'm just happy that it's over." 

Kelly Canadian said he’s 'a little upset' that the government is denying wrongdoing and liability, but is happy that the matter is over with. (Kelly Canadian/Facebook)

The territorial Justice Department would not confirm or deny that the government settled with Canadian outside of court, or that he was paid.

Justice Department spokesperson Ngan Trinh said the matter is confidential and that the government is "unable to comment."

Instead, Trinh said the safety and security of territorial inmates is "paramount and a priority of the Corrections Service." 

Trinh said corrections staff are trained in professionalism, ethics, harassment and workplace conflict, and "routinely" receive refresher training. 

Canadian's lawyer, Steven Cooper, also declined to comment. 

Canadian trying to 'move on'

Canadian told CBC News he struggles with mental health and addictions issues.

"I just feel like I trust all of the wrong people and I'm constantly betrayed by people that I love, and I placed a huge level of trust in this individual," he said of the person he alleges assaulted him.

Canadian said he's in Fort Smith, N.W.T., right now, but he intends to seek treatment for trauma and addictions in Ontario. After that, he said, he plans to go to school for aesthetics and eventually work in the beauty industry. 

"I'm just trying to evolve from the situation and move on," he said. 

But Canadian's involvement with the justice system continues.

He has an upcoming court date in Hay River for one charge of theft under $5,000 and one for failing to comply with a condition of a release order.