Supreme Court won’t hear Nunavut case on mandatory minimum sentences

Cedric Ookowt and Simeonie Itturiligaq challenged constitutionality of 4-year sentences for firearms offences

The Supreme Court of Canada won’t hear an appeal to a 2020 Nunavut Court of Appeal ruling on mandatory minimum sentences. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Supreme Court of Canada won’t hear the appeals of two Nunavut men who argued that mandatory four-year minimum sentences for their firearms convictions are unconstitutional.

Canada’s highest court ruled Thursday that it will not hear an appeal of the Nunavut Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold the four-year sentences.

By dismissing the application, a 2020 Nunavut Court of Appeal sentencing decision and constitutional ruling stands.

Cedric Ookowt of Baker Lake and Simeonie Itturiligaq of Kimmirut each pleaded guilty to intentionally discharging a firearm into or at a place, in separate incidents. Those offences occurred in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

Trial judges handed each of the men sentences of two years less a day despite a law that required mandatory four-year sentences for firearms offences.

In both cases, the judges ruled that imposing the mandatory minimum would breach the offender’s rights under section 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states that everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Judges in both cases considered the potentially damaging impact of sending young, first-time Inuit offenders to serve sentences in federal prisons in the south. Sentences longer than two years must be served in a federal penitentiary.

The Nunavut Court of Appeal disagreed with the lower court and changed the sentences to four years — consistent with Criminal Code provisions that required a mandatory four-year sentence for firearms offences.

In June 2020, a panel of Nunavut Court of Appeal justices ruled the four-year mandatory minimum was constitutional and overturned the previous judges’ rulings.

However, Ookowt and Itturiligaq were not ordered to serve more time because both men had already completed or had nearly completed their original sentences.

Later in 2020, Ookowt and Itturiligaq appealed the Nunavut appeals court decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Nearly two and a half years later, on March 9, the Supreme Court issued its decision to dismiss that leave to appeal.


Share This Story

(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Remove and fire activist Judges on

    Imagine doing something that if you weren’t Inuit, you’d go to jail for 6-10 years..

    All to be given a sentence of two years by activist Judge. Thank you appeals court for common sense.

    When will their be accountability? When will society revolve around keeping people safe and not around the human trash destroying our communities?

  2. Posted by Solomon Grundy on

    Welcome to the real world. You do the d*mn crime, you do the d*mn time.

  3. Posted by Woke on

    Wonder how these woke judges would feel their own family members were present when those firearms discharged? Lifetime firearms ban too would be fair. Guns aren’t toys.

    • Posted by Ed on

      Obviously you would have been a lousy provider a couple of hundred years ago. Abolishing guns won’t protect anyone. Getting rid of the people missusing , them, that’s the answer, make them feel the pain of being incarcerated. Work camps where if you don’t do anything to help offset the costs of keeping you alive, your privileges disappear.
      Enough with blaming guns and legitimate gun owners!

  4. Posted by Chief Bradley Keith Bourque landowner on

    I put all my heart into my life but you with my status card ID and money have a very dark future with illegal handling/fraud charges and you aren’t willing to help your future please think about your childrens children

  5. Posted by John K on

    I don’t like mandatory minimums. They are lazy and an affront to the concept of judicial independence.

    But I agree with these Appellate decisions.


Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *