The Current

Saskatchewan family demands inquest for high domestic death rate

Shirley Parkinson was killed by her husband in a brutal murder-suicide. Her family says more needs to be done to address cases of domestic homicide in a province with the highest rate in Canada. Today we look at one grieving family hoping to change the system, and save others from their pain.
Shirley Parkinson, 56, was killed by her husband in a murder-suicide on September 10, 2014, near Unity, Sask. Her seven siblings want the Coroner's office to review domestic homicides. (Submitted by Mariann Rich)
"...I actually even said, 'if he does something to you, do you want to be buried together?', because I was trying really hard to help her recognize the seriousness of the situation."- Mariann Rich, sister of Shirley Parkinson who was murdered by her husband

This week, one Saskatchewan family is marking a very grim anniversary. It was one year ago that Shirley Parkinson was killed, by her husband of 27 years, in a murder suicide.

It's the kind of tragedy that's forever changed the lives of her family.

Siblings speak out

7 years ago
Duration 1:52
The siblings of Shirley Parkinson hope to save lives by sharing their sister's story.

As they mark the anniversary of her death, Shirley's seven siblings are coming forward and speaking out -- about the private struggle their sister endured at home. And they're demanding that the province of Saskatchewan treat deaths like Shirley's, differently, in hopes of preventing more tragedies. 

Bonnie Allen is a CBC national news reporter in Saskatchewan who has reported extensively on this story. She was in our Regina studio. 

Jo-Anne Dusel has been on the front lines of domestic violence issues for the past twenty years. She is the Provincial Coordinator of the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan, or PATHS. She was also in our Regina studio.

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

There is no national strategy or protocol for reviewing the circumstances in a domestic homicide once the criminal process is complete. Each province decides whether or not domestic violence-related deaths will be reviewed, or whether an inquest will be held. 

Ontario did pass legislation in 2003 which has led to the review of every such death --  by an interdisciplinary committee, under the leadership of the Chief Coroner. 

Peter Jaffe is a psychologist and professor and member of the Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee. 
He is also the Academic Director of the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women & Children at the University of Western Ontario in London. 

This segment was produced by Winnipeg Network Producer Suzanne Dufresne and Vancouver Network Prodcuer, Anne Penman.