The human rights tribunal involving the CBSA Cornwall port of entry treatment of then-pregnant Akwesasne resident Teiohontathe Fallan Davis in 2005 resumed after a break of several weeks.
Testimony in the administrative proceedings, chaired by tribunal member Robert Malo, continued this week in the city of Cornwall, including agency responses to oral examination by Kakwerias, on behalf of Teiohontathe, who has been absent from the proceedings due to a high level of stress she has experienced, dating to the original incident.
The proceedings were witnessed by several members of the Akwesasne community.
Some stated their disbelief after hearing the testimony of a CBSA operations director, Debbie Zion, a 34-year agency employee, who stated that she “jumped for joy” when she located the recorded video evidence of the 2005 secondary inspection CBSA interview with Teiohontathe, in a “personal locker” at a CBSA facility in Ottawa.
Ms. Zion was questioned by the CBSA legal counsel Sean Gaudet on the status of the recovered evidence, which had previously been reported as missing.
A package described as a large envelope entitled “Nov. 18th incident Cornwall”, was noticed by Ms. Zion in her locker which contained a spare tie and work shoes.
Searches for the video files were begun in August 2009, after the existence of the recorded interviews, on computer hard drive and DVD / CD media, could not be located prior to testimony being given about the unseen evidence source.
This incident marred the first human rights tribunal on the complaint by Teiohontathe. Ms. Zion testified that another CBSA employee may have placed the evidence in her own locker while she was out on a lengthy medical leave, but that party remains unknown. Her testimony included her belief that there would be no reason to suppress the evidence by losing control of it on purpose.
The video footage was shown to the human rights tribunal by CBSA Attorney Gaudet, showing both interior and exterior footage of the former-CBSA inspection station located on Kawehnoke (Cornwall Island) and images of Teiohontathe wearing a white overcoat during her secondary inspection interview by the CBSA facility staff.
Previous testimony recalling the day of the incident examined the lack of identification being held by Teiohontathe when the entry documentation was requested by CBSA inspectors.
The incident was characterized by the x-ray inspection of her vehicle, while Teiohontathe was still sitting in the driver’s seat, leading to the termination of her pregnancy shortly afterwards.
Kakwerias led the questioning of the CBSA management of the misplaced evidence and the decision to x-ray the vehicle and how that procedure was overseen. Kakwerias questioned the CBSA employee Ms. Zion about what she actually did to find the missing footage.
A Cornwall port of entry superintendent was directed to look in a locker on-site, Ms. Zion responded.
This same executive level employee’s duties were detailed to include a compilation of the different camera angles and facility surveillance network devices for investigation, splicing the video footage together before the video “tape” source footage was overwritten every 30-days, according to Ms. Zion.
Kakwerias was also involved in the questioning of CBSA lawyer Gaudet over evidence being held by other federal agencies. The CBSA x-ray device, called a VACIS machine, must have had more information available on its operating history, Kakwerias maintained.
The CBSA lawyer responded that the VACIS equipment records would not be available. Kakwerias asserted that the Canadian Atomic Energy Control Board would have access to those records as a matter of oversight.
Human rights tribunal chair Malo interjected that the VACIS equipment records would only have been available from 2009 when the equipment malfunctioned while on loan to a Halifax CBSA facility.
Malo further instructed Kakwerias that she would need to bring forward a tribunal motion to request the Canadian Atomic Energy Control Board provide the pertinent information on the VACIS equipment.
Two further days of testimony were scheduled in Cornwall by the human rights tribunal.
by Charles Kader