The daughter of a man who died at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC) last month says her dad was “full of life,” and was looking forward to his release in under two weeks.
“He was excited to get out, and come see me, and give me a hug. He didn’t get a chance to do that,” said Samarah Loucks.
Her father, 33-year-old Sean William Tourand-Brightman, is the 14th inmate to die at EMDC in the span of 10 years. His family gathered at the facility for a vigil on Sunday night, where they were surrounded by others who’d lost loved ones inside the troubled provincial jail.
Tourand-Brightman, a father of three who went by the name “Junior,” died on March 31.
“Junior was a sparkle in a lot of people’s lives. He was a good kid,” said Howard.
Ever since being young, Tourand-Brightman would shine in the things he applied himself to, his uncle said, whether that be playing basketball, becoming an MMA fighter, or working for the family’s HVAC business.
“When he came to work, there was no telling him to slow down. He just kept going. Amazing kid.”
Howard admits that his nephew fell on hard times, but that he’d done “everything he could to avoid where he was.”
He’d spoken to his nephew over the phone, with Tourand-Brightman’s dad, Winston Brightman, five days before his death. They chatted about his release, going to a rehabilitation centre, and how — after finishing a sentence for a breach of undertaking — he’d get his life back.
“He was feeling probably for the first time in a long time that there was something out there for him,” said Howard.
In the wake of the 33-year-old’s death, the family is joining a chorus of bereaved loved ones pushing for change at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. One of the changes they hope for is stricter security measures to prevent drugs from coming into the facility.
A full body scanner was installed at EMDC over a year ago to detect drugs and weapons, but emergency services continue to respond to overdoses there.
“It’s obviously in there, it’s obviously in there in abundance,” said Howard.
“[Staff are] supposed to be caring for these guys in here. A 30-day sentence isn’t a death sentence, they shouldn’t have to come in here on minor charges, some people waiting for charges to be seen through in court, and losing their lives. That’s not right.”
Howard also wants adequately staffed and responsive correctional officers, noting that he heard about inmates “yelling and banging on doors” for roughly 45 minutes before someone came to his nephew’s aid.
Tourand-Brightman’s name and photo now adorn a cross that’s been pegged into the ground at EMDC’s Exeter Road entrance. The cross is one of 14 to be placed there, in a tribute to the 14 lives that have been lost at the jail in the span of 10 years.
“They’re not alone in this,” said Jessica Robinson.
Her sister’s name, Laura Straughan, is on one of the crosses too.
“I have to be here to let them know that they’re not alone in what they’re feeling.”
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