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UPDATED: RCMP charge Dwight Austin Isadore with second-degree murder in Cape Breton Mi'kmaq woman's death

Janey Micheal, president of the We'koqma'q Native Women's Association, expresses her concerns the second-degree murder charge laid against Dwight Austin Isadore might be reduced to manslaughter during court proceedings. Sgt. Glenn Bonvie told Micheal and the crowd of more than 50 people who attended the RCMP news conference about the arrest in the death of 22-year-old Cassidy Bernard, police didn't think this would happen. Bonvie also confirmed at this point police don't expect to arrest anyone else in relation to the young mother's death.
Janey Micheal, president of the We'koqma'q Native Women's Association, expresses her concerns the second-degree murder charge laid against Dwight Austin Isadore might be reduced to manslaughter during court proceedings. Sgt. Glenn Bonvie told Micheal and the crowd of more than 50 people who attended the RCMP news conference about the arrest in the death of 22-year-old Cassidy Bernard, police didn't think this would happen. Bonvie also confirmed at this point police don't expect to arrest anyone else in relation to the young mother's death. - Nikki Sullivan
WE’KOQMA’Q, N.S. —

Thirteen months after a tight-knit community was shaken by their loss, RCMP have announced murder charges in the death of young mother Cassidy Bernard.

A short burst of applause erupted at the We’koq’maq community hall as RCMP confirmed the arrest of Bernard’s ex-boyfriend, Dwight Austin Isadore.

Dwight Austin Isadore
Dwight Austin Isadore

Community leaders said the news brings a sense of relief to a community devastated by the death of the 22-year-old.

RCMP say Isadore, a 20-year-old Wagmatcook man, is facing a second-degree murder charge, along with two counts of abandoning a child.

Bernard’s body was found in a We’koqmaq residence on Oct. 24, 2018. In the home with her were Bernard’s two twin daughters, severely dehydrated and hungry.

RCMP said Isadore was arrested Monday in Baddeck after having been banned from the We’koq’maq community this fall.

RCMP Sgt. Glenn Bonvie, acting officer in charge of Northeast Nova Scotia Major Crime Unit, announces the charges laid against Dwight Austin Isadore in relation to the murder of 22-year-old Cassidy Bernard. The news conference, which was open to media and the public, was held on Tuesday at the We'koqma'q Community Centre — the community Cassidy was from.
RCMP Sgt. Glenn Bonvie, acting officer in charge of Northeast Nova Scotia Major Crime Unit, announces the charges laid against Dwight Austin Isadore in relation to the murder of 22-year-old Cassidy Bernard. The news conference, which was open to media and the public, was held on Tuesday at the We'koqma'q Community Centre — the community Cassidy was from.

Sgt. Glenn Bonvie, acting officer in charge of the Northeast Nova Major Crimes Unit, was asked about the length of time it took in making an arrest.

Members of Bernard’s family had long suspected the accused man’s involvement in the case.

“We dedicated a number of specialized resources to this case and the officers involved did an excellent job,” Bonvie said. “We are very pleased to be able to provide Cassidy’s family with this outcome.

“I hope that the arrest and charges will be a step forward in the healing process for the family and the entire community.”

Bonvie did not comment on specific investigation techniques, evidence gathered or a timeline in relation to Bernard’s death, as the information is now before the court.


Timeline of events

  • Oct. 24, 2018 - Cassidy Bernard is found dead in a We’koq’maq home with her six-month-old twin daughters nearby. They are severely dehydrated and hungry.
  • Nov. 20, 2018 - We’koqma’q council announced a $100,000 reward for information related to Bernard’s death.
  • Nov. 21, 2018 - Hundreds of people marched across the Canso Causeway in Bernard’s memory, and for all other missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The rally would spark a series of Red Dress walks across the island.
  • December 2018 - RCMP renew call for information in Bernard’s death, describing the matter as suspicious. Police say they do not believe the death was random.
  • May 2019 - Austin Isadore says in an article with the Saltwire Network that he was surprised to learn he was a suspect a week after Bernard’s death when police came knocking on his door. Isadore said he had an alibi and was later released from questioning.
  • July 2019 - Family and friends of Bernard’s say an arrest is imminent.
  • September 2019 - We’koqma’q bans Austin Isadore from the community.
  • October 2019 - Family members and We’koqma’q residents stage a vigil to mark one year since Bernard’s body was found. RCMP say the investigation is ongoing and that they are in regular contact with Bernard’s family.
  • December 3, 2019 - RCMP announce three charges against Bernard’s ex-boyfriend Austin Isadore. They say no other arrests are expected. Family members travel to Port Hawkesbury

The young woman was found dead inside a home in We’koq’maq after attempts to reach her went unanswered.

“We cannot rush investigations like this,” Bonvie told reporters and a large group of community members gathered Tuesday morning.

“We want to make sure that we actually get the supportive evidence to support the charges and that’s what we did. We want to ensure that we collect all the necessary evidence to support the charges that are now before the courts, we cannot rush things like that and you can’t put a time limit on it.”

Cassidy’s second cousin, Cyril Bernard, a We’koqma’q band councillor, spoke on behalf of Bernard’s family. He said Cassidy’s mother, Mona, attended Isadore’s arraignment proceedings in Port Hawkesbury to gain some closure by seeing the accused in handcuffs and shackles.

Cassidy Bernard
Cassidy Bernard

“We are close to getting closure and I can’t even explain how much of a relief it is, even though we don’t know how long this court battle could go on,” he said.

We’koqmaq Chief Rod Googoo thanked the RCMP for their efforts despite some opinions that the investigating lagged on.

“It's better to take your time and get it done right,” said Googoo. “Right from the get-go the community, along with myself, we had full confidence that the RCMP would solve this case.”

Following the press conference RCMP answered questions from community members including the president of the Women’s Association of We’koq’maq, Janey Michael, who expressed concern that the murder charge may be downgraded as it works its way through the court system.

“I hope and sincerely pray that this second-degree murder won’t be downsized to manslaughter,” Michael said, holding back tears.

“We are grateful that charges are laid, but knowing the justice system we don’t want it to be downsized to manslaughter.”

Bonvie responded by saying that RCMP are optimistic in this case.

“We’re positive that those charges will be successful before the court,” he responded.

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