Under the Nunavut’s Coroners Act the Coroner directs the investigation of deaths occurring within the Nunavut Territory with guidance of the Chief Coroner.
This position requires you to works under stressful conditions and within critical situations.
Specific Duties and Responsibilities
- Performs a variety of duties as necessary in performance of the job, including but not limited to:
- Presides at inquests;
- Arrangements of autopsies and transportation of deceased person;
- Provide pertinent information to the Chief Coroner/Deputy Chief Coroner;
- Conduct an external exam of deceased;
- Gathers fluid specimens from deceased for analysis;
- Work in cooperation with the RCMP and the Community Health Care Unit;
- Investigate the circumstances of deaths in order to determine and establish cause
- Deaths in Nunavut are classified as Homicide, Suicide, Accidental, Natural, and Undetermined
- In cooperation with the RCMP attends the death scene and investigates the death by:
- Examining the death scene;
- Examining body of the deceased person and record findings;
- Obtain necessary body samples for analysis;
- Provide photographic documentation of body and death scene
- Complete administrative tasks such as various records and reports necessary in the accurate documentation of death. Completes Registration of Death Form (ROD) ensuring that all information is recorded accurately. Prepare Warrant to take Possession, Preliminary Investigation Forms, etc., and witnesses’ statements.
- Responsible for notifying the Office of the Chief Coroner of events pertaining to deaths under the Nunavut Coroner’s Act.
- Advise and discuss with the Chief Coroner / Deputy Chief Coroner the requirement for autopsy or inquest. In consultation with the Chief Coroner may be required to preside at inquests or public meetings.
- Assumes responsibility for personal safety by the following actions:
- Exercise good judgement prior to entering death scene
- Keep immunizations for communicable diseases up to date
- Wear and maintain protective clothing in the performance of the job
- Maintains rapport with law enforcement agencies, medical personnel, health centres, and various investigative officers/agencies.
- Attend appropriate training sessions in order to keep abreast of Coroner related procedures, techniques and related information.
The ability to communicate with families, next of kin, co-workers, physicians, nurses, law enforcement officers, hospital staff and the general public while exhibiting poise, voice control and confidence.
- Must be willing to perform the duties of Coroner;
- Must be a long standing and respected member of the Community;
- Must have the support of Municipal / Hamlet / Band Council;
- Must be cleared by the RCMP with a Criminal Records Check
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Classifications are as follows:
NATURAL: A deaths primarily resulting from a natural disease of the body or known complication thereof; or known complication of treatment for the disease and not resulting from injuries or abnormal environmental factors.
ACCIDENTIAL: A death is accidental if it is due to an occurrence, incident or event that happens without foresight or expectation. An accidental death is caused by an external factor, where death or harm was not foreseen or expected.
This classification covers all accidental deaths including motor vehicle incidents where there is no obvious intent to cause death. This classification includes any death resulting from an action or actions by a person that results in the unintentional death.
SUICIDE: A death is a suicide if it results from an intentional act of a person knowing the probable consequence of what he/she is about to do-that is the commission or omission of act that results in his/her own death.
There is to be a presumption against suicide at the outset, and there must be sufficient clear and convincing evidence of a non-accidental action, initiated by the deceased, that led to the death.
Suicide is a finding of fact, not of law or morality. A finding of suicide does not imply agreement with, or understanding of the decision of the deceased.
HOMICIDE: A death is a homicide if it resulted from the “action of a human being killing another human being”.
The action must be non-accidental and originates from a person other than the deceased. A finding of homicide in the coroners system is a finding of fact and does not carry with it a determination of guilt. It is however, a serious finding and should be made only on clear and convincing evidence of a non-accidental action of a person that led to the death of another person.
UNDETERMINED: A death is classified as undetermined if: a full investigation has shown no evidence for any specific classification; or there is equal evidence or a significant contest among two or more classifications; or the death is an apparent suicide of a child under the age of 10.
A finding of” undetermined” may be a positive and appropriate finding, after a full investigation and careful consideration of all the evidence. It should not be considered a failure to reach a conclusion.
Any death which cannot be classified in any of the categories. The actual cause of death may or may not be known in these cases. An example of an undetermined death would be a drug overdose where it is unclear if the victim intended to die.
Coroners are instructed to make every effort to classify a death in one of the other existing categories before considering a classification of undetermined.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF CORONERS SERVICE
The Office of Coroner, or Crowner, originated in medieval England shortly after the Norman Conquest in 1066, and has been adopted in many countries whose legal systems have at some time been subject to English or United Kingdom law. The title of the office has varied from “Coronator” during the time of King John to “Crowner” used in Scotland.
One of the early functions of the office was to enquire into sudden and unexpected deaths. It’s the duty of the Crowner to establish the facts relating to the death. There was a rigid procedure enforced at every unexpected death, any deviation from the rules being heavily fined.
The rules were so complex that probably most cases showed some slip-up, with consequential financial penalty to someone. It was common practice either to ignore a dead body or even to hide it. Some people would even drag a corpse by night to another village so that they would not be burdened with the problem.
Failure to inform the coroner was a serious offence the town or village was liable for additional fine if no felon could be found responsible for this death. In Devonshire, in the 13th century for instance, a hedge was built around a corpse or buries, to keep the dogs away until coroner arrives. Failure to preserve the body for coroner to view was illegal. The coroner obligated to inspect the corpse continued right up until 1980.
This particular function of the Office of the Coroner was modified over the centuries, which presently exist in common law jurisdictions. The Coroners Act established the territorial jurisdiction of the Coroner.
There are two death investigation systems in Canada: the Coroner system and the Medical Examiners system. The Coroner system has four main roles to fulfill: investigative, administrative, judicial and preventive. The Medical Examiner system involves medical and administrative elements. The coroner and the Medical Examiner both collect medical and other evidence in order to determine the medical cause and manner of death. The coroner examines the investigative material, comes to a judicial decision concerning the death and makes recommendations to prevent a similar death in future.
A copy of the Jury Report along with a copy of the Inquest Coroner’s Summary with respect to the inquest proceedings will automatically be sent to the family representative and all those persons who were granted standing.
It is the responsibility of the Chief Coroner to bring any recommendations made by the jury to the appropriate Minister, person, agency or department of government. Any response that the Chief Coroner receives from those receiving recommendations will be shared with the family or representative and those persons who had standing at the inquest.
Other persons or parties wanting to receive a copy of the Jury Report should direct their written request to: Office of the Chief Coroner
Station 1000, Box 590
Tel# 1867 975 7292, Fax 1867 975 7294