Supreme court hearing underway over jail’s treatment of Michael Nehass

When Michael Nehass was brought naked to a video court appearance in January 2014 it made national news. For the first time yesterday, the 32-year-old had a chance to talk about what happened from his perspective.

When Michael Nehass was brought naked to a video court appearance in January 2014 it made national news.

For the first time yesterday, the 32-year-old had a chance to talk about what happened from his perspective.

He described being picked up by his leg shackles and handcuffs and brought through the segregation unit, onto an elevator, down multiple halls and into the room where he appeared on video.

Nehass took the stand as part of his hearing on whether the jail violated his rights by treating him this way and by keeping him segregated from general population for years.

Nehass testified that he was already naked in his cell when guards came and told him he had to go to court.

He was being punished, he said. Guards had taken away his clothes after he had destroyed his cell a few days earlier.

Nehass said he asked for clothes but the guards refused, offering him a blanket instead.

Nehass told the court he asked to speak to a superior and the guards left and came back with their shields.

After carrying him to the room with the video feed, one of the guards held his face down with a knee, Nehass said.

The hearing is expected to continue today and tomorrow and then resume for a second week at the end of February. Multiple people, including staff from the jail, are expected to testify.

Nehass calls what is happening to him at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre an “enforced disappearance.”

He insists his detention is part of a vast conspiracy by high-ranking officials across the Yukon intent on keeping him from revealing what he knows about human trafficking, missing and murdered aboriginal women and government corruption.

He is adamant that any efforts to make him seem mentally ill are meant to silence him.

In May 2014 a Yukon judge found Nehass unfit to stand trial. That decision was later reversed by the Yukon Review Board.

Nehass was arrested in December 2011. Documents filed in a different case suggest he has not been part of the jail’s general population since May 2013, instead bouncing between segregation and the jail’s secure living unit.

The two cells are basically the same thing, Nehass told the judge. He is completely isolated from anyone else. He has no meal time or yard time with other inmates. SLU cells usually have TVs, but he hasn’t had one for eight months, he said.

The jail has “yard boxes,” he said – small rooms with mesh as ceilings so inmates can get fresh air.

Nehass said he has gone “years” without getting yard time. It has gotten better, he said. But even now he only gets fresh air about once a week in the summer and three times a week in the winter, he said.

Nehass is adamant that he was sterilized in custody. He testified that he has the scars to prove it.

He said he believes the staff there have poisoned him on multiple occasions.

He testified he was so desperate to get a doctor to look at him that he swallowed fake razor blades so that he could go to the hospital.

He told the court that in November and December of last year, after going to the hospital for medical tests, he started feeling unwell. He believes doctors had sewn a cloth full of carcinogens into his stomach to try and kill him in custody, he said.

Because of that, he stopped eating, he said. He only consumed Boost, a liquid meal supplement.

Nehass testified he used aluminium off the Boost containers to create something that looked like blades and swallowed them in front of a guard.

After being taken to the hospital and examined with a scope he feels better, he said.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Copper Ridge resident clears their driveway after a massive over night snowfall in Whitehorse on Nov. 2, 2020. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Whitehorse and Haines Junction areas for Jan. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Winter storm warning for Haines Junction and Whitehorse

Environment Canada says the storm will develop Monday and last until Tuesday

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

Most Read