A grieving mother is alleging that her daughter didn’t get proper medical care before she died in a cell at the White Birch Remand Centre in Regina.
Sheri Chartrand remembers the last phone conversation she had with her daughter, Breanna Kannick. It was two days before she died. The 21-year-old had been arrested and was waiting for a bail hearing on drug-related charges before she died on Aug. 20.
“I gave her a condition of me bailing her out which would be for her to come home,” she said. “I was going to send her a bus ticket and set her up with an addictions foundation here in The Pas. And she said ‘Yeah mommy, I’m ready to come home.'”
Chatrand says her daughter was feeling sick from the withdrawal. She told her mom on the phone that she hadn’t seen a nurse or had a medical assessment.
“I said just hang on, it’s only a couple more days and I’ll get you out and you can come home,” Chartrand said. “She said okay and said ‘I love you, Mommy’ and I said ‘I love you and I’ll see you Thursday.'”
She was waiting for a call from the probation officer on Thursday but it never came.
“I did get a phone call later that day from my mother in Winnipeg at about 3 telling me that Brianna had died. It was all over Facebook and my brother-in-law saw it on Facebook and phoned my mom.”
Chatrand says the probation officer didn’t know Kannick was dead when she called, but eventually she got through to someone who told her it was true. She has heard that her daughter was vomiting and kicking on the door for help before she died.
“When they finally did go in, they said they performed CPR, which isn’t going to help someone going through withdrawal.”
Now Chartrand wants answers from the Saskatchewan government. She does not think her daughter was given the medical attention she needed.
“I’m angry, very angry and I’m upset and I can’t sleep because that’s all I can see is my little girl kicking on the door for help, and nobody helped her,” she said.
Drew Wilby is the executive director of Corporate Affairs at the Ministry of Justice which has launched an internal investigation to see what happened leading up to Kannick’s death. The case has also been referred to the provincial coroner’s office which will likely call for an official public inquiry.
“First and foremost, obviously our thoughts are with this mother as I’m sure this is a very stressful and difficult time for her,” he said. “Unfortunately, I can’t comment specifically on this case because it is under those reviews that I have indicated. As those reviews continue and as we have more to say, we would look to say more as the opportunity arises.”
Speaking in general terms, Wilby did confirm that the proper protocol for all inmates at the facility is to do a full intake including questions about drug use when they arrive and to have a medical assessment done as soon as possible. He said the White Birch facility does have trained nurses on staff and coordinates with doctors at the health region to offer prescriptions when needed.
In some circumstances, the provincial government will pay funeral costs for people who die in care and Wilby says this case does qualify for that funding.