Samwel Uko’s family calls on Sask. government to begin inquest promised in June

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WARNING: Video in this story contains images of sensitive nature which may not be suitable for all viewers. Discretion is advised.

The family of Samwel Uko is pressuring the Saskatchewan government to conduct its inquest into the death of the 20-year-old B.C. resident pulled from Wascana Lake in Regina on May 21.

In June, the province announced it would launch an inquest into Uko’s death, but failed to provide a date for when that would happen.

Uko’s uncle Justin Nyee, who has been representing the family since his nephew’s death, said he spoke with the coroner last week and was told an inquest wouldn’t be launched for about another year due to other cases ahead of Uko’s.

Read more: Video shows Samwel Uko escorted out of hospital, Sask. Health Authority completes review

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“For us, as a family, it’s taking a long time. We need to know exactly what happened, how it happened and how the hospital is planning to deal with all of this,” Nyee said.

“For us to wait until next year, and you never know it might get pushed again… it’s just dragging on and on for the family. We really need answers and we need them now.”

Nyee is also looking for an apology from Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter, who he says hasn’t reached out to the family at all since Uko’s death.

“He’s the guy on the top. So, if anything happens in your house and you are the top guy, you’re the one who has to take responsibility. You don’t push it to somebody below you to take care of it,” Nyee said.

Read more: Police place Samwel Uko at Regina General Hospital a 2nd time, hours before his death

“I would accept an apology from him, if he has the guts to come out and do it.

“As his mother was saying, they (the province) just don’t care who Samwel was. If they cared, and saw him as a person, as a human being, there would be some steps taken from them.”

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Separate from the provincial inquest, the Saskatchewan Health Authority finished its review into Uko’s death in July, recognizing it “failed” the young man.

Uko visited the Regina General Hospital twice the day he died — once in the morning and again just hours before taking his life in Wascana Lake.

In its four-page review, the SHA admitted that procedure wasn’t followed during his second visit, especially when it came to its registration process dealing with unidentified patients, sharing proper information practices with key partner organizations, and the removal of patients/visitors.

Uko, who had been struggling with mental health issues, was removed from the hospital by four security guards after failing to provide his name to staff.

Read more: Saskatchewan Health Authority issues apology to Samwel Uko’s family, admits failure

“I am deeply sorry. I am sorry to the parents who loved him, I’m sorry to the family who supported him and nurtured him and watched him grow into the young leader that he was,” SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said on July 23.

“As an organization, we failed Samwel, not because of one specific thing that happened, but because of multiple factors that converged and resulted in denying him care.”

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Nyee provided security footage to Global News of inside the hospital during Uko’s second visit which showed him begging for help.

Video shows Samwel Uko escorted out of Regina General Hospital hours before death

Video shows Samwel Uko escorted out of Regina General Hospital hours before death

“Leave me alone… I have mental issues,” Uko shouted out as he was aggressively escorted out of the hospital on May 21, shown in the security video.

The SHA’s review led to a number of changes, which included improvements to its registration and triage process along with its COVID-19 screening and visitation protocols.

Read more: Police place Samwel Uko at Regina General Hospital a 2nd time, hours before his death

Like Nyee, the Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the government to provide a date for the inquest and demanding the province “establish a public inquiry to examine Saskatchewan’s high rates of suicide that have been left unaddressed for too long.”

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“To me, it’s absolutely shocking the minister has nothing to do with this and unwilling to reach out. We haven’t seen hide or hair of Jim Reiter in weeks. He’s really not present on this extremely important file,” Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili said.

“It’s an embarrassment and he needs to step up and Scott Moe needs to step up as well.”

Global News has reached out to the province looking for a response and will update this article when that happens.

Video shows Samwel Uko escorted out of hospital, Sask. Health Authority completes investigation

Video shows Samwel Uko escorted out of hospital, Sask. Health Authority completes investigation

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