In Nunavut, an inquest must be held in all cases where a person dies while held in custody, for example, in a jail, under Mental Health Act or correctional facility. These inquests are mandatory. The only time that an inquest would not be held in these cases is where the person died from natural causes, i.e., natural diseases, and the death is not preventable.

In other instances of sudden, unexpected or unnatural death, the Chief Coroner may decide to hold an inquest. These discretionary inquests may be held for one or more of the following reasons:

  • to determine the identity of the deceased and how, when, where and by what means he or she died;
  • to inform the public of the circumstances surrounding a death;
  • to make dangerous practices or conditions known and make recommendations to avoid preventable deaths; or
  • to educate the public about dangerous practices or conditions to avoid preventable deaths.