Update In The Case Of David And Collet Stephan

If you have been following David and Collet Stephan’s case, you likely know of the decision made in late June 2021. If not, here’s a brief refresher to bring you up-to-date: David and Collet Stephan have been through every parent’s worst nightmare – the death of a child.

They have also been through nearly a decade of criminal court proceedings as a result. David and Collet’s son, Ezekiel, died at 19 months of age in 2012. At the time of his death, the Stephan’s had sought the advice of a nurse-midwife and were treating their son with natural remedies for what they believed was croup.

The Stephans were convicted by an Alberta court in 2016 of “failing to provide the necessaries of life” after prosecutors successfully argued that the Stephans should have brought Ezekiel to a hospital or sought emergency medical treatment sooner than they did. It was clear there was bias present against families who tend to choose natural remedies to treat their family’s health conditions.

There are circumstances where highly trained medical doctors and hospital staff improperly diagnose individuals, causing harm or death, without repercussion. It’s an unfortunate reality that tragedies occur occasionally, despite best efforts. So, for NHPPA the question remained: how is it that David and Collet Stephan, parents with no medical training, are considered criminals, even when in court they clearly demonstrated due diligence at every stage of Ezekiel’s illness?

In 2018, the couple was granted a retrial. After more lengthy court proceedings, in 2019, the court handed down a “not guilty” verdict and the Stephans were acquitted at the retrial. Then, after the Crown appealed the acquittal in the Supreme Court, the Stephans were facing a third trial in Alberta.

“There comes a time when being awake isn’t enough.
We are called to rise up and stand for the truth.”

-from David’s personal Facebook page

Unexpectedly, the Crown prosecutors for that trial stayed the charges in June 2021. In essence, the Alberta Crown has decided not to try the Stephans a third time, as planned. In response to the Alberta Crown’s decision to drop the charges laid against the Stephans, Shawn Buckley, NHPPA President and also one of the Stephans’ lawyers, was quoted as saying, “Actually it’s a little surprising because we still have an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada… Both David and Collet want to proceed with that because they think it’s very important for the law to be clarified so that other parents don’t face the type of uncertainty that they have been facing.”

What does leave to appeal mean? Despite the dropped charges, David and Collet intend to continue to seek permission to argue the details of their case in the Supreme Court for a third time. The Stephans believe that the Crown has set a dangerous precedent that “regardless of your cultural background, here in Canada, you need to subject yourself to Western medicine, otherwise you’re a criminal. It’s wrong.”

David Stephan has been vocal on social media sharing about their journey through the legal process in Canada, and alleging that corruption and collusion in the original case is a driving factor in the Crown prosecutors recent decision to drop the charges.

No doubt, there will be more to this story in years yet to come. But, for now, we celebrate the reprieve with the Stephans.



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