“When you get behind the wheel while impaired you are an automatic killer.”

That was the message shared by the family and friends of a 28-year-old man from Mosquito First Nation paralyzed in a drunk driving incident last year.

On April 19, 2023, Darnell Fineday was struck by a drunk driver in Saskatoon.

The person responsible was charged and convicted with impaired driving. This past month she was handed her sentence; two years house arrest, a suspended license, and a $200 fine.

In the meantime, Darnell Fineday’s quality of life has been forever altered. He requires 24 hour care and is unable to use his legs or hands. He is also unable to speak and is fed through a tube.

At a press conference at the FSIN Head Office in Saskatoon on Wednesday, Darnell’s family and friends and leaders from the FSIN say they believe justice was not served.

“I’m deeply dissatisfied with the court process, and I have questions that remain unanswered,” said Darnell’s mother Charlene Fineday.

Fineday believes communication between the courts and the family of victims is lacking and supports are hard to come by.

She now hopes her family’s tragedy can raise awareness.

“I am my son’s voice now,” she said. “I don’t want to see anyone go through what I have gone through.”

For leaders in the FSIN, they feel this points to a bigger systemic issue around impaired driving in the province and also the barriers facing First Nations people involved in the justice system.

“Here is another example of a broken justice system that continues to ignore the needs of our people, especially First Nations victims,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron.

Cameron, along with the family of Darnell Fineday called for harsher punishments for impaired drivers along with better supports for victims and families.

“There must be harsher penalties,” said Cameron. “When you get behind the wheel while impaired you are an automatic killer.”

This was a sentiment that was echoed by other members of Darnell’s family.

In the meantime, Darnell’s family says they are working with how to communicate him as he lost his ability to speak.

They also say Darnell will most likely never walk again.

(Photo – A photo of Charlene Fineday and Darnell Fineday provided to media at Thursday’s press conference.)