Woman fights in P.E.I. court to live in community with family, friends

Maureen Coulter comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 10, 2016

Supreme Court of P.E.I. Judge Wayne Cheverie is presiding over the jury trial of a young woman charged with second-degree murder in the July 11, 2014 stabbing death of Kent David Gallant, 45, of Charlottetown.

©Jim Day/The Guardian

Courtroom full of her supporters as she takes on Public Guardian

The room was full at P.E.I. Supreme Court on Thursday for a hearing over an application for guardianship of a Charlottetown area woman.

The public guardian acting on behalf of the minister of health and wellness applied for guardianship under the Mental Health Act to manage the woman’s personal affairs.

The Guardian has chosen not to publish the woman’s name and for the rest of the article she will be referred to as June.

June is opposed to the guardianship application as it stands before the court but agrees to a plan that would address her level 4 nursing requirements.

June has been living at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown for more than a year and would need daily nursing care.

The courtroom had several friends of June who were there supporting her in what she wants- to live in the community with support.

“It’s obvious to me there are a lot of people in the courtroom who have an interest in this matter,” said Justice Wayne Cheverie. “This is not common in these cases to have so much interest in an application under the Mental Health Act.”

June has reached out to specific people to support her in her day-to-day decision making.

“It’s about how we support people to maintain agency in their life,” said Rosalind Waters of Georgetown.

Joe Byrne of Charlottetown has known June for 20 years and feels she can function without a guardian because of this support network.

“These are people that know her and love her and support her,” he said. “We are asking the system to consider that there are enough other elements in this to develop a plan.”

A placement plan has been put forth for June to be transitioned to the care of an associate family, sanctioned by the Queens County Residential Services Inc., for day-to-day care.

During the business week, June would spend time at the Queens Country Residential Services Inc. facility to participate in programs and activities.

“The public guardian is willing to see if the plan is viable and see if this is a workable solution to the situation here,” said Robert MacNevin, who was representing the public guardian.

As only the broad strokes of the plan were presented, Cheverie adjourned the matter so he can view the full detailed plan.

Cheverie said this is an obligation the he takes seriously.

“We hear from all sides but ultimately it’s the courts decision and we make that decision in what we believe is in the best interest of the person who is the subject of the application.”

The case will be before the court on Jan. 21 after Cheverie has had a chance to review the file.

“When I receive the plan, I will then determine which direction the file will go.”