A listing of all questions within this category

Coroners in Nunavut are individuals appointed by the Minister. They receive specialized training for Coroners and report to the Chief Coroner. Coroners investigate deaths that occur under certain circumstances as defined in the Coroners Act of Nunavut.

 Coroners must determine in each case the identity of the deceased and the facts as to how, when, where, and by what means death occurred. The Coroner gathers information from a number of sources, for example, from the family, neighbors, physicians, hospital records and police in order to make the five findings referred to above. Police respond to all emergency calls and often are first at the scene of death. The Coroners Act requires that the police assist the Coroner to carry out the investigation, and, in non- criminal cases, they do so on behalf of the Coroner.

 Coroners investigate all unnatural deaths such as those where foul play, suicide or accident are suspected. They also investigate some natural deaths, such as those occurring suddenly and unexpectedly; when negligence or malpractice are suspected or from an illness not being treated by a qualified physician; or whenever questions about a death can only be answered fairly after a full investigation. Also, Coroners must be notified of deaths in licensed long term care facilities.

Any person who believes that a death has occurred under the circumstances set out in the Coroners Act must immediately notify a Coroner. This usually means a doctor, a nurse, or a police officer, but it can be any member of the public.

No. Training and experience enable the Coroner to decide if the findings required can be determined without an autopsy. About 30% of all Coroners investigation requires a medico legal autopsy (Post Mortem Examination).

A medico legal autopsy is a detailed physical examination of a person’s remains. It includes examination of the tissues visually and under the microscope and may include testing for drugs, chemicals or poisons (toxicology) or for infections (microbiology).

No. but if there are objections, the Coroner will explain the need for the autopsy. The findings may have important implications for estate or insurance purposes, will often help to answer questions regarding hereditary aspects of disease, and may prevent anxiety from not knowing what actually cause of death.

The Coroner directs a Pathologist to perform the autopsy. A Pathologist is a medical doctor with a specialized training to perform an examination to body parts, organs and tissuesvisually and under the microscope. In Nunavut there are no doctors trained to perform autopsies, so the deceased is examined at a facility outside the Territory. In complex cases, a specially trained Forensic Pathologist at a Regional Center may be required to conduct the autopsy.

The Coroner and the Pathologist are sensitive to the needs of family and friends who may wish to view the deceased at the funeral home. The examination is conducted in such a way that ordinary viewing does not reveal that an autopsy has been done.

In most cases, the answer is no. However, some aspects of the investigation may cause delay, such as the need for a specialized test to confirm the identity or the cause of death. Your funeral director will advise you as to timing for viewing and/ or funeral services.

Sometimes, depending on the circumstances, whole organs (brain or heart most commonly) must be retained after the initial autopsy to perform further examination. When speaking with family members, Coroners will tell them if an organ must be retained and ask for family input on the eventual disposition of the organ after all testing has been done. It is a routine practice for the Pathologist to retain small samples of tissue for microscopic analysis, to assist in the determination of the cause of death.

Some organs may be retrieved for donation after death. Consent id required for removal for donation purposes. In deaths investigated by the Coroner, next of kin may give consent for organ donations to the Coroner or pathologist who performs the autopsy or to other medical persons.

Information pertaining to the death may be obtained from the Coroner upon availability of document. When the investigation is completed, on written request, the Coroner will provide to the immediate family (spouse, parent, child, brother, sister) or personal representative, a copy of the Coroner’s Final Report and or a copy of the Post Mortem Examination and Toxicology Reports.

The Coroner creates an original copy of the Medical Certificate of Death and sends it to the Registrar General, Vital Statistics Division, Department of Health and Social Services for Nunavut. Only the Registrar General can create an official copy.

Insurance agents will advise the requirements in order to file a claim for death benefits. In most cases, the insurance company will provide a proof of death claim form, which should be sent to the Coroner to complete. The coroner may not have all of the information required for this service. In some cases, for example, the Canada pension plan, a certificate issued by the funeral director is acceptable.

Some deaths lead to a “mandatory” inquest under the Coroners Act. These are the deaths that occur while the person is under custody. A Coroner may decide to hold an inquest to establish the identity of the deceased, the date, place and cause or the manner of death. In addition, a Coroner may hold an inquest to make the circumstances of the death or when recommendations might be made by the inquest jury to prevent similar death in the future. If an inquest is to be held, the next of kin will receive official notification. There is provision for an inquest to be requested by next of kin. Consult the Coroner on how this may be done.

No, it is not mandatory unless a member of the family is called as a witness. The family may apply for standing which allows them to participate in the inquest process, and may be represented by legal counsel or by an agent.

Certificate of death can be obtained by contacting the Government of Nunavut vital stats in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut: Phone – (867) 645-8017

Proof of death can be obtained from the Chief Coroner’s Office and is provided for only up to 3 months after the death of the deceased.

The sudden and unexpected death of someone close to you can raise some questions. If you need more information, Nunavut’s Coroner Service, through the Office of the Chief Coroner is available for you.

1)  Investigation:

  • Each death is unique and the length of the time needed to complete an investigation varies depending on its complexity.
  • Legal next of kin will be updated regularly as the investigation progresses.
  • An autopsy may be required as a part of the investigation: toxicology test results can take several months and autopsy report can takes up to a year.
  • Information may be restricted for privacy reasons and reports are only provided to the public once the investigation is finished.

2)   Autopsy:

  • An autopsy may be ordered to determine the cause of the death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present.
  • All autopsies and toxicology test are performed in three different southern facilities (Ottawa, Edmonton, and Winnipeg) by qualified pathologists.
  • The Office of the Chief Coroner will make arrangements and cover the cost of the body transport by air.
  • In rare occasions, organs may need more testing after the autopsy and families will be notified for consent.
  • If the Chief Coroner has declined to order an autopsy, the family can make arrangements for an autopsy and transportation at their own cost.

3)   Funeral Planning:

  • The Nunavut Coroner Service makes every effort to accommodate the religious or cultural practices of the deceased and the family within its obligation to investigate.
  • Families will be advised when the body is expected to be released for funeral or ceremonial planning.
  • Arrangements and planning can begin before the autopsy is complete and the Chief Coroner will work with you on timing.
  • If the body is being transported to another jurisdiction or country, the Chief Coroner will provide any necessary document.
  • The Nunavut Coroner Services does not pay for any funeral service.