The man many We’koqma’q residents believe is responsible for Cassidy Bernard’s death last year has been banned from the Cape Breton First Nation community.
It’s been more than 11 months since the 22-year-old woman’s body was discovered in her mother’s home in We’koqma’q with her two infant children dehydrated but unharmed. RCMP have labeled the investigation a suspicious death and have yet to name any suspects.
Last Monday, We’koqma’q First Nation posted a community notice on its website officially banning Austin Isadore, Bernard’s ex-boyfriend and the father of her two infants, from the community. The statement, which included a picture of Isadore, said the decision was reached by the band’s chief and council and that the RCMP had been put on notice of the ban.
Isadore, who has maintained he had nothing to do with his ex-girlfriend’s death, lives 27 kilometers away from We’koqma’q, in Wagmatcook First Nation, near Baddeck.
Banned for sake of community: Chief Googoo
But (Bernard's family), and many of us, still have that hope that there will be a break in the case and there will be some closure.
- Chief Rod Googoo
Chief Rod Googoo confirmed the ban, saying it was in response to ongoing complaints from residents who had spotted Isadore in the community. The band needed to act in the best interest of the community because residents felt threatened by his presence and were becoming increasingly angry, said Googoo.
“Like any other government, if someone is a threat to our community, our people, we have to take appropriate steps,” said Googoo. “We felt at this point in time it was very appropriate to ban this individual. We banned him for the sake of our community. He was in our community and making people very uncomfortable, upsetting a lot of people, creating a lot of turmoil.”
Googoo said the band is responding to the community’s wishes but he wouldn’t say whether he believes Isadore is responsible for Bernard’s death.
“As chief and council we follow the direction of our community and what our members tell us. We have to do what’s best for our community and our people. We are concerned about the safety of everybody involved.”
The band has notified the RCMP of the ban and requested that Isadore be informed, said Googoo. He also said he’s confident that the band has the authority to keep Isadore out of the community.
“We firmly believe we can and that we are a sovereign government. If people don’t agree with that, they can take us to court.”
The Chronicle Herald contacted the RCMP over the weekend and on Monday asking for an update on the case and whether it would co-operate in enforcing the ban, but did not get a response to those questions.
Tensions growing as investigation continues
Isadore told the Herald back in May that he had been questioned by RCMP in the weeks after Bernard's death but was released. Isadore admitted that he had threatened Bernard with violence during their two-year relationship but never acted on those threats.
Isadore said on Saturday that he currently works in Halifax and spends all of his time either at home in Wagmatcook or the city. He said he contacted the RCMP about the ban and was told he was still able to visit We’koqma’q. But he said he has no plans to travel there.
The RCMP has been tight-lipped about the investigation, saying that investigators continue to work to solve case the case and that the public would be informed when and if that happens.
Googoo remains patient but admits tensions are growing in the community and Bernard’s family is eager for closure.
“I can only imagine the pain and turmoil they go through each and every day that whoever is responsible for Cassidy’s death is still out there,” said Googoo. “They are friends of mine and I see their pain on a daily basis when I meet them. But they, and many of us, still have that hope that there will be a break in the case and there will be some closure.”
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