67 Crim. L.Q. 523 (2019-2020)
The Connie Oakes Tragedy: The Same Mistakes and Still No Apology

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The Connie OakesTragedy: The Same Mistakes and

                       Still No Apology


                       Colin Sheppard


                         1. Introduction

   Connie Oakes, a member of the Nekaneet First Nation and
residential school survivor,1 was convicted of second-degree murder
on November 15, 2013.2 The Alberta Court of Appeal ordered a new
trial on April 6,2016,3 and 22 days later the Crown stayed the charges
against Ms. Oakes.4 She spent over four years in prison for a crime she
didn't commit.5 During this time, her 22-year old son died of cancer
and her application to attend his funeral was rejected.6
   Wrongful convictions are not a new phenomenon in the Canadian
criminal justice system as evidenced by numerous public inquiries on
the subject.7 The causes have been consistent and well-documented;
*   Colin Sheppard currently practices criminal law in Toronto, ON. He is a
    member of the Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario bars. This article
    was originally prepared during Mr. Sheppard's LL.M. program at the
    University of Toronto.
1. Claire Theobald, Lack of Indigenous Jurors Undermines Faith in Canadian
    Justice System, Experts Warn, The Toronto Star (May 22, 2018), online:
    < https://www.thestar.com/>.
2. R. v. Oakes, 2015 CarswellAlta 903, [2015] A.J. No. 561, 2015 ABCA 178
    (Alta. C.A.) at para. 1 [Oakes].
3. R. v. Oakes (2016), 336 C.C.C. (3d) 117, [2016] 8 W.W.R. 644, 616 A.R. 234
    (Alta. C.A.) [Oakes CA].
4. Jorge Barrera, 'I'm home' Connie Oakes begins the long road back, APTN
    National News (May 2, 2016), online: < https://aptnnews.ca > [Barrera, I'm
    home].
5. Theobald, supra note 1.
6. Barrera, I'm home, supra note 4.
7. Newfoundland, The Lamer Inquiry Pertaining to the Cases of: Ronald Dalton,
    Gregory Parsons and Randy Druken (St John's: Office of the Queen's Printer,
    2006) (the Right Honourable Antonio Lamer), online: < https://www.justi-
    ce.gov.nl.ca/just/publications/lamerreport.pdf> [Lamer Inquiry]. See also,
    The Commission on Proceedings Involving Guy Paul Morin (Toronto: Queen's
    Printer for Ontario, 1998) (The Honourable Fred Kaufman, CM QC) [Morin
    Inquiry]. Other inquires resulting from wrongful convictions include:
    Thomas Sophonow, David Milgaard, James Driskell, and the Goudge
    Inquiry. Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall, Jr, Prosecution,


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