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Flowers and a bible are left at a memorial outside a home in Wilno, Ont., where the body of Anastasia Kuzyk was found.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Lawyers at an inquest into a 2015 triple-femicide in rural Ontario urged a jury to consider a list of 72 recommendations, including that governments provide better-funded services for women fleeing intimate-partner violence, improve training within the criminal justice system and strengthen supervision for offenders released on probation.

After three weeks of testimony, the five-member jury at the inquest into the murders of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam is now tasked with identifying ways of preventing similar deaths in the future. The jury heard closing remarks on Friday.

The women were killed by Basil Borutski, a mutual ex-partner with a long history of violence against them and others. All three murders happened during a single rampage across the Ottawa Valley on the morning of Sept. 22, 2015. Mr. Borutski had been deemed high risk in multiple assessments, was well known to local police, and was on probation at the time of the murders. Although he repeatedly flouted court orders, he was never reprimanded by his probation officer.

Triple-femicide inquest in Ontario hears Basil Borutski was deemed risk to victims prior to 2014 prison release

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The jury received a list of proposed recommendations that were jointly prepared by Prabhu Rajan, chief counsel to the Chief Coroner for Ontario; Kirsten Mercer, counsel to End Violence Against Women Renfrew County, an advocacy group; and Ms. Warmerdam’s daughter, Valerie, who had legal standing in the inquest, allowing her to ask questions of witnesses.

The jury can accept any or none of those recommendations, and can also add its own.

Many of the proposed recommendations deal with funding. For example, the jury is being asked to recommend that governments ensure front-line intimate-partner violence services are provided with adequate and stable core funding, the way other public services are, in order to remove unnecessary reporting obligations that eat up workers’ time.

“Big investments are needed in this area to make change,” Ms. Mercer said in her closing remarks to the jury.

Another item on the list of proposed recommendations is the creation of an emergency fund for survivors of intimate-partner violence.

“We’ve dubbed it the She C.A.N. fund, and you’ll recognize those initials for Carol, Anastasia and Nathalie,” Ms. Mercer said. The fund would provide small grants to women taking steps to seek safety, with special consideration for those in rural and remote communities.

“We don’t want to tell women what that safety needs to look like, but we want to take away barriers that they are encountering in making the choices that will make them and their children safer,” she said. “Maybe it’s first and last month’s rent. Maybe it’s something that you need for [security], whether it’s cameras or a dash cam.”

Several other proposed recommendations focus on education. The jury is being asked to recommend enhancements to school curriculums, as well as training for those working within the justice system, with particular emphasis on monitoring offenders on probation.

“Strengthening what supervision means, particularly in these cases, with this perpetrator, has to be part of the way forward,” Ms. Mercer said.

The proposed recommendations also include calls for governments to do more to prevent intimate-partner violence from happening, and also for them to take steps to rehabilitate offenders, including by changing Ontario’s existing one-size-fits all Partner Assault Response (PAR) program for men charged with violence.

“There must be a full spectrum of approaches to prevent and address IPV. We must start when the abuser isn’t an abuser. As a child and a youth, and then as a young man – and frankly, with his parents before he is born,” Mr. Rajan told the jury.

The lawyers praised the collaborative nature of the inquest, and its efforts to include witnesses that helped contextualize the case as part of an insidious and systemic problem.

“Men perpetrating IPV do not present as monsters,” Mr. Rajan said. “They are your friends, neighbours, family members. You may see them every day at your local coffee shop, or the grocery store.”

Mr. Rajan and Ms. Mercer urged the jury to consider accountability mechanisms, so that policy makers face pressure to follow up on any recommendations that come out of the inquest. Their suggested recommendations include that the jury call on the province to immediately institute a committee – including senior members of relevant ministries, as well as intimate-partner violence experts – to oversee the responses.

“I don’t want your work and our work to sit on a shelf or … an inbox,” Ms. Mercer said. “So those recommendations … about oversight and accountability, are really important. Without those pieces, nothing else really matters.”

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