Quebec coroner’s inquest into Innu man who froze to death in Montreal

By Lia Lévesque, The Canadian Press

A Quebec coroner’s inquest started Monday into the death of Raphaël ‘Napa’ André, and found that he had received services, support and care on a number of occasions in the two years prior to his death.

The 51-year-old Innu man was found dead in a portable toilet on Jan. 17, 2021 — he had been seeking shelter, as he was part of the homeless community in Montreal.

The incident occurred at the corner of Milton Street and Parc Avenue, steps away from the Open Door shelter after public health officials had ordered it to close overnight due to COVID-19 pandemic. 

RELATED: Honouring Raphaël Napa André

In a news release back in Feb. 2024, it was announced that coroner Stéphanie Gamache has been appointed to oversee the inquiry.

“The hearings will allow any interested party to express themselves regarding the circumstances of this death in order to analyze all contributing factors and propose solutions for better protection of human life,” the coroner’s office said in the release.

The first witnesses to testify on Monday were police officers, who described the scene and the witnesses they interviewed as part of their investigation. The police investigation concluded that there was no third party involved in the death.

From the outset, the coroner warned that her inquest would “not be a public inquiry into homelessness in its entirety,” nor would she be looking for culprits.

“There will always be a certain amount of mystery surrounding Napparaphael’s death, since he is unfortunately no longer here to tell us about his last hours,” concluded the coroner.

The hearings will be held from May 13 to 24, and then from June 3 to 14 in Longueuil.

–This report by La Presse Canadienne was translated by CityNews

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