Community worried that charges in Cassidy Bernard death will be reduced

    Last November, the Canso Causeway hosted a large demonstration in memory of Cassidy Bernard.

    WE’KOQMA’Q FIRST NATION: After 405 days of remaining tight-lipped, the RCMP have finally provided their first update on the suspicious death of Cassidy Bernard.

    The father of Cassidy’s twin daughters, 20-year-old Dwight Austin Isadore of Wagmatcook First Nation, was arrested in Baddeck on Monday by the Nova Scotia RCMP and charged with second-degree murder and two counts of abandonment of a child in relation to her death.

    “Today’s charges are a result of a thorough investigation using a variety of techniques,” Sgt. Glenn Bonvie, acting officer in charge of the Nova Scotia RCMP Major Crimes Unit told reporters during a press conference in the community. “We dedicated a number of special resources to this case, and the officers involved did an excellent job. We’re very pleased to be able to provide Cassidy’s family with this outcome.”

    In May, Isadore was questioned by the RCMP but was later released without charges and on September 23, band officials in We’koqma’q First Nation issued a notice banning him from the community.

    Sgt. Bonvie said he hoped the arrest and charges will be a step forward in the healing process for the family and the entire community.

    The young 22-year-old was found deceased in her We’koqma’q home by her mother on October 24, 2018. The infant girls, who were six-months old at the time, were found inside the home. Besides being dehydrated, they were not harmed.

    “In cases such as this, they’re very complex, and because we want to ensure that we collect all the necessary evidence to support the charges that are now before the courts, we cannot rush things like that, and you can’t put a time limit on it,” Sgt. Bonvie explained. “There were no obstacles, we just can’t rush investigations like this, we want to make sure that we actually get the evidence to support those charges – and that’s what we did.”

    Because the investigation is now before the courts, he wasn’t at liberty to comment in regard to timelines or specifics about the case, but indicated, at this time, the RCMP is not anticipating more arrests or charges.

    “We’re now focused on assisting the Crown in getting the best court package before the court,” Sgt. Bonvie said. “It was an added bonus to have the continued support from the family and the community, they’ve been along every step of the way. We’ve been in regular contact with them throughout this investigation and it’s nice knowing we had that support in coming to this conclusion today.”

    Janey Michael, who sits on the executive of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, welcomed the news of an arrest but noted she has her concerns.

    “We are grateful charges were laid,” she said. “But knowing the justice system, I don’t want to see the charge of second-degree murder downsized to manslaughter.”

    In regard to the charges before the courts, Sgt. Bonvie suggested the RCMP try to ensure they have the best possible evidence.

    “We want to ensure those charges actually stay that way,” he said. “Of course when things go to court, we work with the Crown to prosecute on those charges, and we’re positive those charges will be susceptible for the court.”

    Sgt. Bonvie said the cause of death is determined by the medical examiner and he had no further comment. A request for comment from the Medical Examiner’s Office wasn’t returned at press time.

    Isadore was scheduled to appear in Port Hawkesbury Provincial Court yesterday on previous charges stemming from an incident following Cassidy’s death of uttering threats to cause bodily harm and uttering threats to damage property.