The final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), released on June 3, was cited during a sentencing hearing in Yellowknife a few days later.
The new report “shows the level of violence being inflicted on Indigenous women needs to be addressed through sentencing,” said Crown prosecutor Pierre-Luc Bergeron on June 7 in Territorial Court.
“There needs to be a message communicated throughout the Northwest Territories that violence against a partner is unacceptable.
“The principle of denunciation and deterrence must be emphasized.”
Bergeron included mention of the 1,200-page report during a sentencing hearing for a man facing several breaches of court orders, including having no contact or communication with his former common-law wife – who he had assaulted.
Willy Firth, 29, pleaded guilty to assault and five breaches of court orders, with several other charges withdrawn by the Crown.
He was sentenced to 75 days, which equalled the amount of remand credit he had built up. He will also be on probation for one year, during which he can have no contact or communication with the victim – unless through a third party to see their children.
He will also take counselling as directed.
“This type of behaviour is just too common in the Northwest Territories,” said Judge Garth Malakoe. “Although these are ‘just breaches,’ they are, as the Crown pointed out, breaches of orders to keep [the victim] safe.”
Bergeron told court Firth headbutted the victim in their home in Tsiigehtchic at 4:37am on April 14, 2018. He also threatened her and punched a hole in the wall.
They had been arguing over another woman, said Bergeron.
Four children were sleeping in the residence at the time.
Firth plans to live in Yellowknife and hopes to regain work at the mines once released from jail.