For immediate release
January 22, 2022
Treaty Five Territory, Thompson, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak is issuing this statement in response to the announcement the Manitoba RCMP have laid charges in the death of William Ahmo, a 45-year-old First Nations male who was incarcerated at the Headingley Correctional Centre. Mr. Ahmo passed away in hospital on February 14, 2021.
Robert Jeffrey Morden, a 43-year-old male, was arrested today and charged with Criminal Negligence Causing Death and Failing to Provide the Necessities of Life. Robert Morden is a Corrections Officer at the Headingley Correctional Centre.
Grand Chief Garrison Settee states:
“On behalf of MKO, I extend my condolences to the family and those who loved William Ahmo. I commend you for advocating on behalf of William.
I also commend the Manitoba RCMP for overseeing this investigation and for working with Manitoba’s Prosecution Service in laying charges in the death of William Ahmo.
Last month, I had the opportunity to visit both the Headingley Correctional Centre and the Stony Mountain Penitentiary. My hope was to see the conditions firsthand and spend some time with people from MKO First Nations. Unfortunately, my ability to connect with MKO citizens in Headingley was limited. I had hoped to be part of sharing circles with inmates to learn more about the conditions within these correction centres.
I am aware anti-Indigenous racism is prevalent across all systems, including the justice system. While Indigenous people make up 70 to 75 per cent of adults incarcerated across Manitoba’s correctional system, only 14 per cent of corrections staff in the province are Indigenous.
Anti-Indigenous racism is prevalent within correctional centres. Many inmates have been made to feel less than human due to the treatment they receive from correction officers. I have expressed our intention to work closely with correction officials to address the ongoing racism.
As a province, we have much work to do in continuing to address anti-Indigenous racism. We must transform the systems that are contributing to the untimely deaths of Indigenous peoples. I urge justice officials to continue working closely with MKO in addressing the deeply pervasive issue of anti-Indigenous racism within Manitoba’s justice system.
My heart goes out to the family and community of William Ahmo during this difficult time.”
For more information:
Melanie Ferris, MKO Communications
Email: [email protected]