'The grief continues': Family of Soleiman Faqiri marks five-year anniversary of his death
Soleiman Faqiri is seen in this undated photo. (Supplied)
Published Saturday, December 18, 2021 8:32PM EST
The family of a 30-year-old man who died in an Ontario jail in 2016 held a vigil Saturday evening to mark the five-year anniversary of his death.
Soleiman Faqiri died on Dec. 15, 2016 after he was beaten, pepper sprayed and restrained face-down by guards in a segregation cell at the Central East Correctional Facility.
Faqiri lived with schizophrenia and was remanded to the Lindsay, Ont. jail on Dec. 5. He spent 11 days at the facility and was set to be moved to a psychiatric facility for help.
On Saturday, friends and family of Faqiri gathered at Yonge-Dundas Square to lay 50 white roses in his memory.
“The pain is fresh, the grief continues,” Faqiri’s brother, Yusuf, told CP24 Saturday afternoon.
Yusuf said the roses represent the 50 bruises found on Soleiman’s body following the incident.
“We miss him everyday, but what tonight is also about is that it’s not just about Soleiman, it’s about shedding light on the systemic issues within the justice system and the correctional system for Canadians that are suffering from mental illness.”
In August, Ontario’s chief forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Pollanen found that Faqiri’s enlarged heart, his exhausting "violent struggle" with jail guards, and the injuries he sustained were key factors in his death.
The coroner's office had previously concluded Faqiri's cause of death was "unascertainable" but Pollanen re-examined what happened to help inform an upcoming inquest into his death.
Brampton East MPP Gurratan Singh was present at Saturday evening’s vigil and called for changes to the way Ontario jails respond to mental health crises.
“Soleiman should be with us here today, because Soleiman was an individual who was suffering from a health issue, a mental health issue,” Singh said. “We know that the response to mental health issues cannot be policing, it cannot be this kind of violence, and instead, must be a health-care response."
Faqiri’s family launched a civil suit in the matter against the province, the jail's superintendent and several jail guards following the incident.
With files from The Canadian Press.