One of two men charged with first-degree murder in the 2017 death of Wilfred “Dickie” Charlie in Carmacks has been granted bail on the condition that he be accepted into the Salvation Army’s Yukon Adult Resource Centre (YARC) in Whitehorse.
Mario Rueben Skookum, 25, was arrested and charged in Charlie’s death on Oct. 6, 2017. He has been in custody since then.
Skookum’s bail hearing was held last week. In an hour-long decision delivered July 10, Yukon Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower approved Skookum’s interim release but placed 13 conditions on it, including that Skookum must abstain from possessing or consuming any alcohol or drugs, that he must reside at the YARC and that he must abide by a curfew.
He is also forbidden from contacting 15 people, including his co-accused, Tyler Aaron Skookum.
The submissions made by Crown attorney Lauren Whyte and defence lawyer Bibhas Vaze during Skookum’s bail hearing and Gower’s reasons are covered by a publication ban.
In an interview following Gower’s decision, Vaze said he thought the conditions Gower placed on Skookum’s release were “reasonable.”
Speaking generally, Vaze said a lack of resources is an issue faced by Indigenous people accused of crimes across Canada.
“It’s a situation where so many systemic, historical factors have come together to make it difficult for Indigenous people to be able to be on bail.… One should not be disadvantaged by their social-economic situation from getting placement in the community,” he said.
The YARC is an 18-bed rehabilitation facility operated by the Salvation Army and funded by the Yukon government, with beds contracted out to the Yukon government, Correctional Service Canada and reserved for the community wellness court.
Executive director Ian McKenzie said that while it’s rare for people released on bail to be accepted into one of its programs, it’s not unheard of. He confirmed that the Salvation Army has received a request to accept Skookum, but said that the Salvation Army’s response, if any, is confidential.
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