EDIT: On the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 15 RCMP issued the following statement:
“The Saskatchewan RCMP did conduct a complete investigation into the deaths of Shirley and Donald Parkinson. The investigation determined that cause of deaths were homicide and suicide. This was a very unfortunate incident for the family and community of Unity. The investigation was completed and in respect for the wishes of the family the RCMP chose to release limited details surrounding this investigation.
This continues to be very difficult for the family who continue to ask for privacy.”
REGINA – Shirley Parkinson, 56, was reported missing to RCMP last month by a co-worker. Police found her dead on her property in the RM of Round Valley. Her husband Donald, 60, was found dead outside.
At the time, investigators would only use the term “sudden deaths” and said they were not looking for any suspects. Now Saskatchewan’s chief coroner has confirmed that Shirley was murdered in a homicide-suicide.
RCMP declined an interview with Global News to explain why those details weren’t made public. Instead, they cited section 7 of the federal Privacy Act. It states: “Personal information under the control of a government institution shall not, without the consent of the individual to whom it relates, be used by the institution.”
RCMP said they were concerned for the privacy of Shirley’s family, but advocates for the prevention of domestic violence disagree with that decision.
“Change comes from tragedy and if we don’t see these things being reported then there’s nothing to be learned from it,” said Jen Renwick, a case worker with Family Service Regina.
According to the office of the privacy commissioner of Canada, the Privacy Act permits the disclosure of personal information where the public interest outweighs an invasion of privacy. A spokesperson added, “It is the responsibility of the head of the institution to ensure that the public interest clearly outweighs the privacy concerns of the individuals involved. The discretion bestowed on the head of the institution must, therefore, be exercised with restraint.”
However, Renwick said keeping violence behind closed doors discourages other victims from coming forward.
“This happened in a rural community. Violence is everywhere. The more that the issue is raised in the public, then the greater chance we can push it into the public and create even more change.”