Nadine Machiskinic's family questions 'police policing police'

Delores Stevenson is skeptical about the RCMP review of the police investigation into her niece's death. "I don't have a whole lot of confidence within the justice system and police investigating police," she says.

RCMP review of Regina Police Service investigation into woman's death announced last week

Delores Stevenson (right) says her niece Nadine Machiskinic (left) was like a sister to her. (Delores Stevenson)

Delores Stevenson is skeptical about the RCMP review of the police investigation into her niece's death. 

"I don't have a whole lot of confidence within the justice system and police investigating police, especially when there's a lack of communication," she said at a Monday news conference.

Nadine Machiskinic, an Indigenous mother of four, died after she fell 10 storeys down a laundry chute at the Delta Hotel in Regina on Jan. 10, 2015.

It's very hard to have faith when the relationship is broken and there's no trust.- Delores Stevenson

Stevenson was notified of the independent review by RCMP last Thursday, but hasn't heard from the Regina Police Service, which conducted the initial investigation. She said she plans to meet with RCMP in the coming weeks to discuss the process. 

Stevenson questioned the idea of "police policing police."

"It's very hard to have faith when the relationship is broken and there's no trust," she said.

'Because she was an Indigenous woman her life didn't matter,' says Delores Stevenson. (CBC)

However, she said, "It's an opportunity for the justice system to build that relationship with Indigenous communities, and that goes all along the lines of communication."

Stevenson has criticized the way authorities handled the case, alleging that Machiskinic was treated differently because of her race.

"Because she was an Indigenous woman, her life didn't matter," she said.

"It was presumed that Nadine, an Indigenous woman, walked into the Delta Hotel, went into the laundry room, passed out or possibly overdosed."

The investigation review was requested by Evan Bray, chief of Regina's police, who told CBC News he made the request in response to the criticisms levelled by Stevenson and family. 

The police weren't notified of Machiskinic's death for 60 hours. By that time, staff had cleaned the area where her body was found and Machiskinic's personal effects, like her purse, were likely thrown out. 

Due to an error, it took six months for police to send toxicological samples taken during Machiskinic's autopsy for testing at an RCMP forensic lab.

Bray said he hopes the review brings comfort to Machiskinic's family. 

Call for civilian oversight board 

Also at the news conference was Richelle Dubois, the mother of 14-year-old Haven Dubois, who died in Regina in May 2015. She, too, has been highly critical of the police investigation into the death.   

"The Public Complaints Commission was not effective in either of these cases, in my opinion," said Michelle Stewart, a member of the Coalition for Civilian Oversight, who teaches in the department of justice studies at the University of Regina.

She noted the Saskatchewan Public Complaints Commission (a five-person government-appointed body that investigates and reviews complaints against municipal police) is housed within the provincial Ministry of Justice. She said many Indigenous people lack confidence in the justice system.

"What does it mean to tell them to go to the Ministry of Justice, to go to the so-called civilian branch of it to undertake an investigation of a police matter?" she said.

"We have to overhaul that system so that families can find a mechanism to go to when they have questions in cases like this."

With files from Creeden Martell and Kendall Latimer