Skip to main content

Saskatoon woman accused of abducting her child says her Charter rights were violated

The legal team for a Saskatoon woman accused of kidnapping her child is trying to obtain documents they believe will show her Charter rights were violated.

Dawn Walker pleaded not guilty to charges of abduction, identity theft and public mischief after she was accused of abducting her son and faking their deaths last summer. After extensive searches spanning two weeks, Walker and the seven-year-old were found safe in Oregon.

Her legal team, led by prominent defence lawyer Marie Henein, is asking for a stay of proceedings, outlining what they say is systemic discrimination experienced by Walker in her attempts to report alleged assaults by a former partner, and maltreatment while in custody.

Her lawyers are requesting records from the province, the Saskatoon Police Service, and the RCMP about Walker’s treatment after her arrest as she was transported from the U.S. to Canada, and held in custody in Saskatoon before being taken to Pine Grove Correctional outside Prince Albert.

“Women taken into custody at SPS headquarters are often forced to remain in squalor and isolation for several days longer than men due to the purported unavailability of transportation to Pine Grove,” the application says.

They’re also looking for records relating to the police’s investigations of two “complaints of sexual assault by her white ex-partner and the father of her child.”

The defence argues the violations of Walker’s Charter rights were “not isolated,” but reflect the “systemic mistreatment of incarcerated Indigenous women.”

“Ms. Walker’s accomplishments have not protected her from victimization by Saskatchewan’s extreme criminalization of Indigenous women. Nor is she immune to the government’s utter failure to protect Indigenous women such as her from domestic and intimate partner violence,” the application says.

During a news conference held shortly after her arrest in the U.S., Saskatoon Police Service Deputy Chief Randy Huisman confirmed Walker had previously made domestic violence allegations which were "thoroughly investigated."

"No charges resulted as a result of those investigations," Huisman said.

Among the allegations in the application, Walker's lawyers say the Saskatoon police unlawfully accessed Walker’s bank records in their investigation, that she was subject to cruel and unusual punishment by being stripped and searched three times prior to her bail hearing, despite remaining in custody the entire time.

While in custody at the Saskatoon police detention over the weekend of August 26 to 29, they say she was only given a cement bench to sleep on with only a sheet, no recreation time and no access to a toothbrush or shower.

“Through the systemic racism and neglect of Indigenous women that Ms. Walker’s criminal prosecution emblematizes, the State has ‘engaged in conduct that is offensive to societal notions of fair play and decency’ and ‘proceeding with a trial in the face of that conduct would be harmful to the integrity of the justice system.’”

In requesting the investigation records about Walker’s reported sexual assaults, the lawyers intend to show that she abducted her seven-year-old child out of necessity, after lawful means of seeking help failed.

If a stay of proceedings is granted, the Crown will be forced to drop the charges without proceeding to trial. Her next appearance in provincial court is on May 4.


An earlier version of the story said Walker's lawyers were looking for information about police investigations into reported sexual assaults by two former partners.

The complaints were actually only in reference to one partner, the father of her child. Top Stories

Stay Connected