Gladue report not an ‘easy out’ loophole, says Indigenous leader

Brett Overby, 30, was convicted of the murder of Christine Wood.
Brett Overby, 30, was convicted of the murder of Christine Wood. Instagram

Brett Overby, convicted this week of second-degree murder in the death of a young Indigenous woman, is pursuing a controversial legal move prior to his July 2 sentencing.

Overby’s lawyer asked the court for a Gladue report as Overby’s trial wrapped up Wednesday.

A Gladue report is a pre-sentencing and bail hearing report that Canadian courts can request when they’re considering the sentence for an offender of Indigenous ancestry.

Factors considered include the effects of residential schools, history in the child welfare and adoption system, poverty and poor living conditions, a lack of formal education, and the effects of dislocation and dispossession of Indigenous peoples.

Local Indigenous leader and former Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North told 680 CJOB she doesn’t want to pre-judge without knowing Overby’s personal history, but based on what she’s seen, she’s skeptical whether his case applies.

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“The Gladue report comes in to play, from what I know, for people that have had a long history of poverty and being impacted by residential schools,” said North.

“I don’t know Brett Overby’s history or even the family. I was surprised, as were many of us in the gallery, that he claimed Indigenous ancestry… but there’s nobody on earth who can question that – if that’s what he is, that’s what he is, but that’s not what was clear to us.”

North said the fact that Overby had a long-term job for more than a decade, owned a vehicle, and was a homeowner from a very young age are all potential indicators that he may not fit the bill for Gladue consideration.

“These are not the things that someone that has had a long, hard life would have at such an early age,” she said.

“I don’t want to pre-judge, but those are in the back of my mind, and I think all of that will hopefully come into play before a decision, because we don’t want to take the Gladue report and taint as a kind of ‘easy out’ loophole.”

North also tweeted Thursday morning that Overby’s case didn’t qualify, in her opinion.

“Brett Overby, a young man who owned his own vehicle n house, w/same job for 10 yrs, w/ along term gf could mean he had no problems finding a quality of life he wanted n had plenty of opportunities! Does his case qualify for Gladue sentencing? IMHO, no!”

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Second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence, but the court will need to decide on Overby’s parole eligibility.

WATCH: ‘The outcome all families want’: Sheila North on Overby verdict

Click to play video: '‘The outcome all families want’: Sheila North on Overby verdict'
‘The outcome all families want’: Sheila North on Overby verdict

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