No break-away closet bar despite judicial recommendations in similar death
BY KAREN KLEISS, EDMONTON JOURNAL APRIL 25, 2014
The mournful heartbeat of traditional Cree drum songs haunted a Maskwacis community hall Friday as the mother of a dead teenage girl bent over her daughter’s body, placed her forehead on the girl’s chest, and wept.
An elder used a white feather to sweep curling wisps of sweetgrass smoke over the girl, who looked as if she was sleeping. Her grey coffin was decorated with simple cedar boughs. Guests brought roses.
KC was 15 years old, a ward of the province, a troubled young woman who cut her arms, struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and repeatedly tried to kill herself, her family said.
On April 21, 2014 she hanged herself from a closet bar in her Edmonton group home, sometime in the early afternoon. Her body was found 12 hours later.
Like all children who die in foster care, she must remain nameless and faceless by law, but her family wants her story told.
KC’s aunt said caseworkers convinced the family the best way to help KC was to give her over to the province.
“When my sister signed the permanent guardianship order, they said KC would get the help that she needed. My sister believed them,” the aunt said.
“I was there. My sister pleaded and she cried. They promised her. They said they would help KC, but they didn’t.”
The aunt says the family wants to know why KC was left unsupervised, and for so long.
“It was no secret that KC was suicidal,” the aunt said. “She had 50 or 100 cuts on her arms.”
Aboriginal kids are more likely to be in foster care, more likely to die in care, and more likely to die by suicide.
The Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research reports that suicide rates among children in care are nearly triple those of children who are not in care.
Aboriginal children make up about nine per cent of the Alberta child population and account for 58 per cent of children in care, and the mortality rate for aboriginal children in care is 111 per 100,000, compared to 71 per 100,000 of non-aboriginal children in care.
KC’s death is not unique; the circumstances of her suicide appear almost identical to those of a 17-year-old aboriginal boy named DED-B. Like KC, he was known to be suicidal, and like KC, he hanged himself in an Edmonton group home.
A fatality inquiry was held, and a Provincial Court Judge said facilities for suicidal youth should have break-away closet bars that cannot support their weight in the event of a suicide attempt.
DED-B died in 2000, nearly 14 years ago; it is not known why the recommendation was not implemented at KC’s group home by 2014.
“I feel the system has failed my family,” the girl’s aunt said. “I think there should be a public inquiry.”
She said KC’s mother went to the group home to collect her daughter’s things, but had to fight to keep the girl’s diaries, which told the dark story of her descent into depression.
Youth worker Mark Cherrington said the diaries will be crucial to giving KC a voice, and figuring what went wrong in the days leading to her death.
THE NUMBERS OF NATIVE CHILDREN IN CARE IS ON THE RISE. nOT SO MUCH BECAUSE OF ABUSE BY PARENTS AGAINST CHILDREN BUT RATHER BECAUSE OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION.
tHERE IS AN EPIDEMIC AGAINST NATIVE CHILDREN AND WE ARE SEEING DISASTROUS RESULTS BECAUSE OF THESE CHILDREN BEING RIPPED APART FROM THEIR FAMILIES FOR THE SAKE OF PROFIT.
cHILD PROTECTION IS NOT NOW NOR HAS IT BEEN ABOUT CHILD PROTECTION. the RECORDS SHOW IT.
tHE NEWS REPORTS AND PROTESTS TELL A STORY.
eVEN GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES ARE DEMANDING ANSWERS as TO the WHY " CHILD PROTECTION' HAS SO MANY CHILDREN BEING BEATEN WHILE IN CARE.
THE ARE ASKING AS TO THE WHYS THAT SO MANY CHILDREN ARE DYING WHILE IN THEIR CARE OF PROTECTION.
they WANT TO KNOW AS TO THE WHY OF CHILD PROTECTION WORKERS BEING ARRESTED FOR DRUG SMUGGLING, drug abuse in & out of the presence of children, CHILD TRAFFICKING, MANIPULATION, FALSIFICATIONS OF COURT DOCUMENTS TO GAIN CHILDREN INTO CARE, plus many other criminal offences.
the REASONS: THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR.
cash flow. The more children in care=
the more cash they can get for their agency and themselves.
It boils down to child trafficking for profit.
Isn't it about time they started picking on someone besides little children?