As seen on CTV News by Tamina Aziz on May 7, 2022.
Dozens gathered in Vancouver Saturday for the inaugural “Mothers for Justice Memorial Walk.”
Many of those attending have lost loved ones, alleging the deaths were due to medical negligence. Now, they are channeling their grief into calls for justice and a campaign for change.
Emilie Negahban, who tragically lost her newborn baby just hours after giving birth in February, was among those gathered.
“We want something to change. I don’t want his death to be in vain. I don’t want his death to mean nothing,” she said.
Negahban is a cervical cancer survivor and called her son, Nathaniel Achilles Nicolas Addison, her miracle baby.
“I’ve been trying to cope. I’ve been trying to get through each day, but every single day, something reminds me of him. Something reminds me of my little boy,” she said.
Negahban alleges also negligence by medical staff at Lions Gate Hospital resulted in her baby’s death.
“This could happen to someone else. And this will continue to happen to other mothers, to other parents, to other children — until a change is made to our law,” she said.
Ann Forry and her family are also seeking justice. Forry’s 29-year-old daughter Natasha died from an undiagnosed infection in 2020, despite making multiple hospital visits.
“It’s actually a disgrace that B.C. has the worst wrongful death laws in Canada and it just doesn’t seem to be a priority for the government,” she said, adding that the last two years without her daughter have been extremely difficult to endure.
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster. It adds to the trauma and the brief to know that there are no answers. There is no accountability,” Forry continued.
Bianca Gilbert shed many tears as she held a picture of Natasha, honouring her best friend.
“It’s like a wound that doesn’t really ever heal,” she cried.
“Natasha was my confidante. Like, I could talk to her about anything. And so, it’s really become more obvious that she’s gone when I don’t have my person to go and talk to,” she continued.
Don Renaud, a lawyer who specializes in birth injury and personal injury, said families facing these difficulties are left with very few legal options in the province.
“What you have is a lot of families facing a lot of grief, yes, but it’s aggravated by the injustice of them not being able to hold wrong-doers accountable,” he said.
He said cases like Negahban’s and Forry’s are frequent — he faces a new one every month.
Renaud said while families could try and sue for wrongful death, many don’t meet the requirements for fair compensation.
“[The province] needs a Wrongful Death Accountability Act. They need to mend the Wills, Estate and Succession Act which prohibits actions for what are called “non-pecuniary” damages. They need to give people the right to go to court,” he explained.
The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society has been pushing for these changes for decades and says if the change doesn’t happen now, it will only be a matter of time before there is another wrongful death – and another family left reeling.
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About the BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society
‘In Their Name’ is the campaign of ‘The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’ – a BC registered non-profit organization comprised of volunteer families who have lost a loved one to wrongful death in BC and were denied access to justice. In response to the biggest human rights issue facing the province today, our goal is to modernize British Columbia’s antiquated wrongful death legislation, which predates confederation (1846). Under current legislation, the value of a human life is measured only by the deceased’s future lost income, so long as they had dependents.
As a result of the province’s antiquated law, access to justice has been denied to the families of the wrongfully killed who do not meet this discriminatory criteria. This has affected especially vulnerable groups, namely children, seniors, the disabled, and anyone without dependents when they are killed by the negligent or intentional acts of another.
BC is presently the last of all the provinces, yet to have undertaken this critical legislative modernization to allow for dignity, value, and protections for all its citizens under the law.
When it’s ‘free’ to kill in BC, wrongdoers are not held accountable. This lack of general deterrence holds the province back in terms of incentivizing innovation of safety measures and protocols to prevent wrongful deaths in the first place.
Here’s How You Can Get Involved…
The Premier of British Columbia, David Eby, is responsible for the modernization of BC’s wrongful death laws. Our Society provided David Eby with the drafted ‘Wrongful Death Accountability Act’ when he was acting as the Attorney General for British Columbia for 6 years between 2017-2022. The new Attorney General, Niki Sharma, also shares responsibility as she is the Minister responsible for the ‘Family Compensation Act’ – the current guiding piece of legislation that the civil courts must follow in cases of wrongful death. Minister Sharma receives feedback from the regional ‘Members of the Legislative Assembly’ (MLAs) and follows orders from the Premier, David Eby, who is ultimately responsible for modernization.
Reform is presently at a standstill, as the BC NDP government does not presently view access to justice for the surviving family members of the wrongfully killed as a priority in this province. This is despite the fact that the families behind our Society have been fighting for modernization for over two decades. And despite the fact that all other provinces, including the Yukon, have already modernized in most cases long ago.
The only way to move this forward is by creating massive public awareness and outcry for legislative modernization. Only under the scrutiny of the public and the media will our politicians be forced to take this necessary, and long overdue action.
How many more people will need to die from the same preventable wrongful actions before our politicians will do their job?
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