Chief wants light turned on RCMP

The chief of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation wants the public to get its nose out of his business and into the RCMP's. Eddie Skookum expressed his dissatisfaction with the outcome of the RCMP's investigation into the death of Raymond Silverfox.

The chief of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation wants the public to get its nose out of his business and into the RCMP’s.

Eddie Skookum expressed his dissatisfaction with the outcome of the RCMP’s investigation into the death of Raymond Silverfox.

“The death of Raymond and the outcome of the investigation is a definite setback to all relations in dealings with RCMP,” Skookum said in the release.

To date, there have not been any problems in co-operation between the First Nation and the police, said RCMP spokesman Sgt. Don Rogers.

“We certainly respect the opinion of Chief Skookum,” said Rogers. “And we understand his coming out in support of the Silverfox family at this time.”

An independent body should have done the investigation to ensure its impartiality, said Skookum in the release.

When Silverfox died in December 2008, there was no policy allowing independent investigations, said Rogers. However, that policy changed in 2010 – and will apply to any future investigations.

Silverfox succumbed to pneumonia, but the autopsy could not determine whether it was contracted before or after he was brought into RCMP cells, according to the report from “E” Division’s major crime team.

After the death, the RCMP and other agencies launched a number of internal reviews and studies, using investigators from BC and the North, said Inspector Brendan Fitzpatrick as he announced the investigation’s results in Whitehorse on November 10.

Grounds to lay any criminal charges did not exist and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada was asked for their legal opinion as well, he said.

Audio from one of the cellblock video cameras was not discovered until the April coroner’s inquest. This was reviewed by investigators and sent along with all other findings to Nunavut’s Crown council for a secondary legal opinion, he said.

“The opinion did not change – charges should not be laid,” he said. “(And) while the RCMP ‘E’ Division major crime criminal code investigation has now concluded, the public complaint investigation by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP and the internal RCMP Code of Conduct investigation are still underway.”

So is the territory-wide policing review.

With a focus on First Nations’ issues it should only produce positive outcomes, Rogers said.

Because of a civil case brought by the Silverfox family, both Rogers and Skookum were guarded in their remarks.

“Because of the sensitivity of the case, it’s best not to have a question-and-answer session at this time,” said Skookum. “Because they may use it against me in the civil court case.”

He kept his comments confined to the release.

“It is too bad that more people who have a good sense of how justice works in the Yukon do not come forward,” Skookum said in a release.

People should come forward if they have issues against the RCMP, said Skookum, who was recently convicted of reckless endangerment in Alaska after beating his 21-year-old partner bloody in a hotel room.

The scandal provoked questions about whether a community leader should resign after they’ve been involved in violence against women.

In Skookum’s case, Carmacks elders affirmed his continued leadership of the First Nation.

Asked if he was the right person to be encouraging people to come forward against the RCMP, Skookum said this summer’s incident should not undermine his voice on Silverfox.

“People say, ‘Who’s he to say that?’ Well, who are they?” he said. “All people make mistakes in their lifetime, including them.

“The public thinks they are always right when they are not. I don’t have any desire to do that again. People don’t even know the kind of support I have here, in my community.”

“Too many people are taking our issues into the public.”

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com