The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal dismissed the complaint of a former Okanagan Correction Centre inmate Dec. 3, 2020 regarding his denial of kosher meals while incarcerated. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News file)

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal dismissed the complaint of a former Okanagan Correction Centre inmate Dec. 3, 2020 regarding his denial of kosher meals while incarcerated. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News file)

Human Rights Tribunal dismisses kosher meal complaint from Okanagan inmate

Tribunal determines the inmate failed to provide any evidence he should be served kosher meals

A former Penticton man has had his discrimination complaint for being refused kosher meals in prison thrown out by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

Morgan Griffith filed the complaint against the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General (BC Corrections) in October 2017 while he was incarcerated at OCC after being sentenced for assault.

Griffith had asked for kosher meals and for a Hebrew dictionary and was denied both requests by BC Corrections, leading him to file a discrimination complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.

However, Griffith’s complaint was dismissed by the tribunal on the basis that Griffith could not sufficiently prove his connection to Judaism.

READ MORE: Okanagan Correctional Centre outbreak due to training session: Interior Health

For an incarcerated person to receive kosher meals they must be able to prove to corrections that they were practicing Judaism and eating kosher meals prior to being incarcerated in consultation with a Rabbi, according to the ruling from the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

If the inmate cannot prove a prior connection to the Jewish faith their request for kosher meals will be denied but they will be provided information on converting to Judaism and corrections may revisit its denial of the request for kosher meals in the future.

In the case of Griffith, the tribunal found that he was not practicing Judaism but had Jewish heritage and wished to be served kosher meals on that basis.

Following this process, Griffith met with the Chaplain at OCC after his request. The Chaplain said Griffith told him that he was not Jewish but rather had Jewish heritage and qualified for a kosher meal because of this.

A transcript of a phone conversation between the chaplain, a Rabbi and Griffith shows Mr. Griffith explaining that he was not Jewish but had Jewish ancestry, and that his mother was not Jewish but has a “Jewish last name.” It also suggests Mr. Griffith was unsure about the diet he followed at home.

After being transferred from OCC to the North Surrey Pretrial Centre, Griffith made continued requests for kosher meals but was denied on the basis that he could not prove his connection to the Jewish community. Griffith gave corrections the name of a Rabbi and synagogue he claimed to be connected with, but when corrections reached out to the synagogue they claimed to have never heard of the Rabbi or Griffith.

In response to his requests for a kosher diet, Griffith was approved for a vegetarian diet.

Griffith was released from custody in Jan. 2019. The decision to dismiss Giffith’s complaint was made by British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal in Dec. 2020.

“Mr. Griffith says that the denial of a kosher diet made him feel Corrections was against him practicing his religion. However, in his submissions and further submissions, he has not said anything about what his subjective religious belief or connection to Judaism is or why he sought a kosher diet,” Human Rights Tribunal member Emily Ohler said in her ruling. “He does not address the transcript… where he appears to have little understanding of what a kosher diet entails, or whether he has followed one in the past.

“Mr. Griffith has put forward so little evidence about his connection to Judaism, the role a kosher diet plays in that for him, and why the denial of a kosher diet affected him adversely, that I am persuaded the Tribunal could not find that Corrections’ denial of a kosher diet in all of the circumstances constituted an adverse impact related to his religion.”

READ MORE: Another inmate files lawsuit against Okanagan Correctional Centre



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

prison

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ district administration centre. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district gets started on new budget amid unknowns

Ministry’s per-student funding increase doesn’t fully cover pay raises for teachers and support staff

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo school district reports COVID-19 case at Fairview Elementary

April 9 exposure the fourth case reported in SD68 since spring break

The old career resource centre, formerly Quennell School, was demolished last week. (Photo courtesy Erik Warners)
Old career centre and school demolished in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter

School district says building was decaying and was unsuitable for use

Nanaimo Fire Rescue’s two new pumper trucks, slated to be delivered in the fall, will have battery-powered idle-reduction technology. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo’s newest fire trucks will come with idle-reduction technology

Pumper trucks arriving from U.S.-based manufacturer will use battery power to save fuel

A raccoon prowls near a porch in north Nanaimo last fall. (News Bulletin file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Attack on dog shows raccoons can be nasty creatures

We had to take our black lab to the emergency vet for treatment, says letter writer

The old career resource centre, formerly Quennell School, was demolished last week. (Photo courtesy Erik Warners)
Old career centre and school demolished in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter

School district says building was decaying and was unsuitable for use

AstraZeneca vaccine is becoming available at B.C. pharmacies outside the Lower Mainland, as of Friday, April 9. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein
Immunization program expands to five Nanaimo pharmacies

Residents 55-65-year-old can get their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

Firefighters, including those from Cranberry volunteer department, are battling a blaze in the Nanaimo River Road area. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Dwelling destroyed, two taken to hospital after Nanaimo River Road blaze

Firefighers arrived to find dwelling and garage fully engulfed in flame at property south of Nanaimo

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

Most Read