Inquest starts into Kinew James death at Saskatoon Regional Psychiatric Centre

Click to play video: 'Inquest into 2013  death of Kinew James at Saskatoon Regional Psychiatric Centre begins' Inquest into 2013 death of Kinew James at Saskatoon Regional Psychiatric Centre begins
WATCH ABOVE: An inquest has begun into the death of 35-year-old inmate Kinew James. The inquest re-commenced Monday after its scope was expanded. – May 8, 2017

A long-awaited inquest into the death of Kinew James, who was an inmate at the Regional Psychiatric Centre, is underway in Saskatoon.

While it won’t bring her back, James’ family hopes to spare another family from going through the same tragedy.

READ MORE: Scope of inquiry delays inquest into death of Kinew James

“At the end of the day – what this inquest will achieve is maybe some changes to their policies and procedures so this doesn’t happen to other people,” Kinew’s brother, Cecil James, said.

“I mean, my sister didn’t go in with a pre-existing condition.”

On Jan. 19, 2013, the 35-year-old woman was found unresponsive in her cell at the Regional Psychiatric Centre. She was pronounced dead at hospital from an apparent heart attack a short time later.

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READ MORE: 5 alarm calls made from Kinew James cell the night she died: report

According to correction’s own internal investigation, there were six occasions leading up to her death where insulin was not administered and five distress calls came from her cell the night she died.

“Part of the requirements for an inquest are that it’s supposed to enable the public to be better aware of the circumstances that created the tragedy and work out what dangerous policies might have contributed towards that death that as a society we can change,” Josephine de Whytell the lawyer for Kinew’s mother Grace Campbell, said.

READ MORE: Elizabeth Fry Society granted standing at Kinew James inquest

More than half a dozen changes have been made since James’ death. The recommendations from this inquest will go one step further.

“We look at every single one independently and take them all into consideration, we want to do everything we can to prevent deaths,” Lori Halfper, a spokesperson with Correctional Service Canada, said.

On Monday, testimony centered on the management of James’ Type 2 diabetes and what role her incarceration may have played in her overall health.

The inquiry heard from Dr. Jonathon Witt, who said in the days leading up to James’ death her blood sugar levels were improving but never within a normal range.

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READ MORE: Scope of inquiry delays inquest into death of Kinew James

James had only eight months left to serve at the time of her death after spending nearly half her life in prison.

“We were ready to have her come home and it’s just unfortunate that we didn’t get to see her come home,” Cecil James said.

A total of 19 witnesses are expected to testify at the inquest, which is scheduled to run until May 19.

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