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Sask. family says justice system failed their injured son

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Nearly a year has passed since Charlene Fineday's family was devastated. Her son Darnell was struck by an impaired driver, leaving him non-verbal, and unable to move his hands or legs.

Darnell was struck in the early morning hours of April 19, 2023 near the intersection of 22nd Street West and Hart Road in Saskatoon. A 23-year-old woman was arrested at the scene and charged with impaired driving causing bodily harm.

Since the collision, Darnell's family has been dealing with the aftermath of this tragedy, navigating through a world that has been irrevocably changed. Darnell has lived in Parkridge Centre, a long term care home in Saskatoon, since October 2023. 

According to his family, he now requires 24-hour care and can only eat through a feeding tube.

Now, Charlene has become an advocate for awareness in First Nations communities, aiming to support individuals facing similar challenges.

"I'm looking for support to bring awareness to First Nation communities to support people in my situation. I don't ever want to see another mother go through what I've been through," Fineday said.

David Fineday, Darnell's grandfather, expressed his pain in witnessing his grandson's condition, noting the severity of Darnell's injuries and his inability to communicate or move.

The family's frustration is compounded by the sentencing of the accused. They say the driver was sentenced to two years less a day of house arrest, had her license suspended for a year, and was fined two hundred dollars.

Darnell Fineday before this accident, in this undated photo. (Courtesy: FSIN)

Charlene feels that justice was not served. She believes that a more substantial sentence was warranted, and feels like the family should have been involved in the discussion.

"I'm deeply dissatisfied with the court process, and the details of what happened are not clear, and questions we've asked remain unanswered," Charlene said in a press Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) press release on Wednesday.

"I feel that I was not allowed any input as to how the court process evolved into a joint submission."

The Finedays are calling for increased support for families affected by impaired driving. Their efforts to seek justice and support led them to meet with Indigenous leaders, including David Pratt, first vice chief of the FSIN.

"We support the families, call for more supports for the families, because we know there are other families out there too," Pratt said.

In recent weeks the RCMP has introduced a new policy mandating breathalyzer tests at every stop, aiming to reduce the number of impaired driving incidents.

-With files from Rory MacLean

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