Pauchay faces sentencing circle
“This is your road you’ve got to take. It’s your choice how you will walk it,"
By Betty Ann Adam, TheStarPhoenix.comFebruary 13, 2009
Source: Pauchay faces sentencing circle (external - login to view)
ROSE VALLEY — On the night his children froze to death, an inebriated Christopher Pauchay turned down a relative’s offer to care for his daughters.
In an agreed statement of facts read at Pauchay’s sentencing circle Friday, Crown prosecutor Marylynne Beaton said some time before midnight on that tragic night, an intoxicated Pauchay walked from his home on the Yellow Quill reserve across a field to the house of his brother-in-law, Mike Kaishayineu, to ask for help.
Pauchay had separated from his wife, Tracey Jimmy, that weekend, and purchased a large volume of alcohol.
After asking Kaishayineu for help, Pauchay ran back to the house where his daughters were left alone. Kaishayineu drove to Pauchay’s house and asked the dad if he wanted him to take care of Kaydance, 15 months, and Santana, age 3.
When Pauchay said no, Beaton said, Kaishayineu told Pauchay to stop drinking and take care of his children.
At 5 a.m. on Jan. 29., 2008, Pauchay crawled to the home of Darlene Ahpay, suffering from hypothermia; the wind chill had fallen to -50 C. It wasn’t until 4:30 p.m. when searchers found Santana lying on a root between Pauchay’s and Ahpay’s houses. Kaydance was found the next morning. The toddlers were dressed only in diapers and T-shirts; both died of hypothermia.
Pauchay was semi-conscious when the neighbour found him on her doorstep. He was aggressive, so RCMP and paramedics went to the house and sedated him, transporting him to hospital with serious frostbite on his back, chest and fingers. No one realized the girls were unaccounted for until about eight hours later, when Pauchay was able to speak.
None of the community members in the sentencing circle addressed the possibility the children could have gone with Kaishayineu on that fateful night
A sobbing Pauchay told the circle he was “in a deep emotional state” after his daughters’ deaths.
Pauchay, who pleaded guilty last year to one
count of criminal negligence, faced a circle of 23 participants near the Yellow Quill reserve. Another 50 or 60 people came to observe the process.
“There isn’t a day gone by when I didn’t worry about them. I always worried about them,” he said.
“I feel so bad. I feel so guilty.”
Wearing a black T-shirt and with the fingers of his right hand in a bandage, Pauchay was leaning on his elbows and staring at the floor when facilitator Doug Gamble told him to sit up, face his circle, and explain what happened on Jan. 29.
Pauchay sat up, but could not contain his emotions at first. Gamble then asked other members of the circle to speak, giving Pauchay time to stop crying and regain control. When he composed himself, Pauchay described an incident where one of his small daughters was in the hospital with a fever, and he sat beside her all day and all night. He was also present when his second daughter took her first steps.
Tracey Jimmy, the mother of Kaydance and Santana, wailed uncontrollably, but also spoke strongly, saying she believes Pauchay is a good man. She apologized for anything hurtful she said to him in the past.
Jimmy said when she met Pauchay, she knew he would be the father of her children. She cried as she described her happiness when she found out she was pregnant with their first baby. She wept more as she said that her third child, the one she was pregnant with at the time of Kaydance and Santana’s deaths, has been taken from her. The only person who knows what she’s going through is Christopher, she added, and they are not allowed to live together.
“They took away my (main) support,” she said.
On Friday afternoon, Pauchay also said his attempts to heal were hampered when his and Jimmy’s third child, Miracle
, was apprehended by social services.
The day Miracle was born was “the greatest day,” Pauchay said; Life began to return to normal.
“The day she got tooken (sic) away brought me back to that day over a year ago,” Pauchay said.
The baby was apprehended after an incident eight months ago that resulted in assault charges and a restraining order against Pauchay.
“People who tell themselves they have a big heart still have the capacity to cause more pain, more hurt,” Pauchay said of Miracle’s apprehension. “That’s all I have left. They took her away. My rights didn’t matter
. She’s all that kept me together.”
Despite wishes from around the circle that the family be reunited, Judge Barry Morgan said he can’t do that — his only role is to sentence Pauchay for the crime in question.
Community elder Francis Nippi recommended to Morgan that Pauchay be assigned to serve three of the traditional pipe carriers in the community.
That role is called the Oschapawis, and duties include setting up rocks in preparation for sweat lodges, filling and lighting pipes before ceremonies, and assisting elders with other tasks.
He would learn from the elders that way, Nippi said, noting that it is a lifetime role Pauchay would be filling.
Pauchay’s uncle is a leading headman in the community, and Nippi asked that Pauchay be given “that beautiful gift” to work beside his uncle.
Later, three other elders in the circle endorsed Nippi’s suggestion for Pauchay to be an Oschapawis.
Dr. Raj Hartharamini, a psychologist who has worked with the people of Yellow Quill, said the reserve has done extensive work to heal from last year’s tragedy.
Pauchay’s family began holding healing circles, and eventually, invited the rest of the community to join them.
Hartharamini and community members have devised 12 intervention strategies to help Yellow Quill move forward, including workshops to teach parenting and life skills, programs where elders mentor youth, a kids’ help phone line, alcohol-free family fun events, and others.
Several residents have already stepped forward to take the training to lead such programs, Hartharamini said.
The consensus around the circle Friday afternoon was that community members do not want Pauchay to do go jail, but serve his sentence at home instead.
The judge can accept the suggestion or impose a sentence of his own.
When Crown and defence make their sentencing arguments on Mar. 4, Pauchay’s lawyer Ron Piche said he will ask for a conditional sentence
, adding that he has never seen a better plan for an offender to serve a community sentence than the one in place for his client.
Judge Morgan said he will announce Paunchay’s sentence on Mar. 6.
Pauchay was initially released on bail while his case is before the courts. He was re-arrested and returned to custody Jan. 8, 2009, when RCMP charged him with violating his bail conditions by drinking alcohol on two occasions in December and January.
Yellow Quill First Nation is about 260 kilometres east of Saskatoon.
I really don't know what to say, other than so far, I'm not surprised.
I'm very curious to hear Judge Morgan's decision on sentencing in
three weeks on March 6th though...