Facebook racism threats offender goes unpunished after two-year window expires

Two of three people arrested went through justice programs - third dropped out: CP

Two of the three Flin Flon-area residents arrested after a series of racist and threatening Facebook posts have faced their fate - but one of the three may have completely dodged punishment.

A Canadian Press (CP) story from July 29 stated that two of the three culprits had gone through alternative justice processes in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. A third culprit did not and now appears to have escaped either criminal charges or restorative programs.

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The three people identified in the CP story as having faced punishment were named as Raycine Chaisson, Samantha Markham and Destine Spiller. It was on a page under Spiller’s name where the original post was made that set the controversy in motion in July 2018. After a vehicle was found spray-painted by unknown assailants, photos were posted online that led to a meandering comment section with accounts under Spiller and Chaisson’s names proposing a “shoot a [sic] Indian day” and a “24 hour purge”, adding “it’s time they keep the animals locked up” and “Let’s grab a Budweiser and some shot guns”.

No arrests were made in the original act of vandalism. No evidence of the perpetrators having been Indigenous has been made public.

Spiller and Chaisson were arrested on charges relating to hate speech following the posts. Markham, who added comments on her own page, was also arrested. After the arrests, RCMP said the investigation was forwarded to a Crown attorney’s office for review and confirmation of charges.

Following the incident, the Facebook profiles linked to Spiller and Chaisson were deleted. The Flin Flon Post It Facebook group was also deleted when the remarks were reposted there and posts of condemnation, threats and even encouragement were made.

Instead of criminal punishment, Indigenous authorities proposed a different path for Spiller and Markham, going with a restorative justice program at Opaskwayak Cree Nation.

Both would need to read their Facebook posts in front of community members and elders, take part in mediation circles. write a formal apology and an essay on Indigenous issues and meet seven conditions based on traditional Cree laws.

Spiller embraced the program according to the report, issuing a public apology, meeting the requirements and performing community service at a friendship centre. She completed the program last February.

“I uttered the statements out of anger and realized too late that these comments were hurtful,” read Spiller’s apology.

“I have over and over wished I could take the statements back.”

Chaisson, a Saskatchewan resident, went through an alternative measures program in her home province that led to charges of making threats and breach of peace being withdrawn last summer.

Markham, on the other hand, did not follow the same path. According to the CP story, Markham attended one mediation circle and then abandoned the process, describing the process as

According to the Criminal Code of Canada, prosecutors would have two years from when the original comments were made to press charges in instances such as Markham’s.

As of the two year anniversary of the original posts July 28, no charges had been filed against Markham. Markham is described in the CP story as having felt the process was “a rude experience.”

When reached out to by a CP reporter, Manitoba Justice said Markham’s matter was concluded without formal charges without providing any further information. In the story, Markham is described as saying attempts to refer her case to the courts were rejected and that she did not take part in any further court diversion programs.

Irene Young, an Opaskwayak Cree Nation elder who was tasked with running the mediation circles through Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), said Markham chose not to participate.

“People are starting to be aware that (racism) is not appropriate behaviour,” Young said to CP.

“We do not accept racism.”


- with files from Kelly Geraldine Malone, Canadian Press

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