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

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Head-on collision Jan. 14 claims one life west of Fort St. James

Jenkins said alcohol, as well as road surface conditions, have been ruled out as factors

Nechako River, Vanderhoof, B.C. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Officials keeping close tabs on Nechako River after ice jam causes area flooding

District of Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen, though, said water levels have gone down, for now

Vanderhoof home sees water from the Nechako move up into the yard, and within hours, water was seen up to the deck. Ken Young, Vanderhoof councillor posted this photo on social media.
Mayor concerned about ice jams in the Nechako river

“We have never lived with a frozen river at this magnitude during our time in council,” mayor said.

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read