Saturday, June 28, 2014

“Not Our Problem”: An Open Letter to the Canadian and Dominican Governments

This letter may be republished in its totality without prior consent.


The Government of Canada c/o
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister
John Baird, Foreign Affairs Minister
Bob Paulson, RCMP Commissioner
Peter MacKay, Attorney General

The Government of Dominica c/o
Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister
Evelina Baptiste, Director of Public Prosecutions


Dennis Augustine

I am writing today to call upon the governments of Canada and Dominica to honor their roles as guardians of justice and the lives of their citizens by bringing my sister, Canadian Citizen, Sarah Lynn Augustine, to stand trial for the September 16, 2010 murder of her two children, Canadian Citizens, Rachael Vigilant Augustine (five years old) and Sophia Vigilant Augustine (two months old) in Mahaut, Dominica.

Sarah was arrested for these crimes in Dominica in 2010.  At the time she was suicidal and showed signs of having experienced a postpartum psychotic episode.  Recognizing how ill Sarah was, the former DPP of Dominica was keen to see her repatriated to Canada for treatment since it soon became apparent that Dominica was ill-equipped to treat her but wanted some assurance that she would in-fact be treated in Canada and eventually returned when she was fit enough to stand trial.

My family worked tirelessly to try to make that happen.  We thought that surely the Canadian and Dominican governments would work something out but Foreign Affairs on both sides indicated that they could do nothing since there was no extradition treaty between the two countries.  My attempts to involve the Canadian Attorney General and the RCMP similarly fell on deaf ears. “These crimes happened in another country. It’s not our jurisdiction” they said. I was in shock. I explained that the murderer and the victims were all Canadian citizens. How could it be that a Canadian could murder others and Canadians could be murdered in a foreign country and the Canadian government was not interested?

When it became evident that no deal would be brokered the Dominican DPP simply discontinued Sarah’s trial and released her into my hands to be repatriated and treated in Canada.  While we were glad that Sarah would be treated (I doubt she would have lived much longer had she stayed in prison in Dominica given her condition) we were not pleased that upon arrival in Canada she would have no official restrictions placed on her whatsoever but we had little choice and only a brief window of time to get her out of Dominica.

I personally brought Sarah back to Canada in January of 2012 and delivered her to the CAMH in Toronto where she voluntarily committed herself for treatment.  The fine folk at CAMH did everything in their power under the law to treat Sarah. She eventually was declared well enough to make her own medical decisions and was released into the community. I do not know if she continues to receive treatment of any sort and to the best of my knowledge she has not restrictions or public record of any sort relating to the murder. I ask you, is this compassionate, just or in the public interest? I think not.

While I do not regret my role in helping to save my sister’s life by getting her repatriated for treatment and would like nothing more than to see her returned to health and living a happy prosperous life, I do deeply regret the fact that she has not been made to stand trial for my niece’s murders.  While it’s clear to me that my sister was not well at the time she brutally stabbed these precious children to death, I nonetheless believe that it is a disgrace to their memory not to have this matter settled in a court of law and therefore I call on you to act.

I want to make it clear that I do not necessarily speak for my family. I have consulted no one but my conscience. I speak as a citizen of Canada and of Dominica who is ashamed that his governments would abdicate their responsibility to safeguard life and justice. I speak as a brother who knows a few months in care is not enough to return my sister to health. I speak as the uncle of two lovely children who were born into my hands, whom I helped name and raise, children cannot speak for themselves, whose blood cries out from a hillside grave in Dominica. In their names I demand a response. What do you intend to do?


Dennis Augustine


  1. So its probably past the statutory for this specific crime but I think that the thing to do that would be beneficial going forward is to save other children from falling into the same situation. We should brainstorm the exact places the law failed and take that to the politicians, the MPs running for office to change the laws. Even better, Dennis, I think you should run for office and be the one pushing this issue forward as a memorial to your nieces. I think this would be the thing to give you closure. The thing to prove to yourself that you gave it everything you had to make a difference.

  2. Thankfully there is not statutory limit on murder. The thing to do is to conclude the trial. That nobody has acted is inexcusable. I have no interest in running and have nothing to prove to myself. All I want is what's just for my nieces and I intend to get it.