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

The Rogers Creek Trail main trailhead is located on the Redford Extension in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Hiker rescued after cold few hours in the bush outside Port Alberni

Alberni Valley Rescue Squad said they receive frequent calls for people lost on this trail

Helma Swinkels, left, from Bibi J’s is all smiles as she makes her first donation under the new business name to Ellen Frood from Alberni Community and Women’s Services (ACAWS). In 18 sales days, Swinkels was able to donate $3,000 to the transition house. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Bibi J’s in Port Alberni makes first donation to non-profit

Alberni Women and Community Services to benefit

Alberta premier Jason Kenney announced that Red Deer and other rural locations would soon be getting doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. (photography by Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier)
EDITORIAL: Leading by example

Those in leadership roles need to follow the restrictions they impose on others

Melissa Martin from the Rollin Art Centre holds two paintings from the Rollin Art Centre’s permanent collection: an original portrait painted by the late Robert Aller, and a mixed media piece called ‘House’ from Peggy Larson that was part of Aller’s private collection. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre to re-open February 2

Newest exhibit will feature some pieces from permanent collection

Rik Abel has opened Rik’s Picks, a vintage record shop on Johnston Road. (TERESA BIRD / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
BIZ BEAT: Port Alberni businesses get innovative during pandemic

See what’s new in the Port Alberni business community

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Most Read