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Maggie Tuttle Update

Children's rights group submits proposals to Constituent Assembly Daily News Egypt The rights group also requested protection of children with disabilities under the new constitution and mechanisms to allow early detection of disabilities that...
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Family-Centred Care Practice
Dedicated to battling injustice of any form against children, youth, persons with disability and the elderly. Family-Centred Care Practice is the most ethically viable and cost-effective approach of service delivery.
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Decision to leave children in home after Serenity's death infefensible: lawyer 

Decision to leave children in home after Serenity's death infefensible: lawyer  | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
https://www.google.ca/amp/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.4110378

Edmonton

Decision to leave children in home after Serenity's death indefensible: lawyer

'I want justice for my daughter, but I also want justice for the all the other kids,' says Serenity's mom

Wallis Snowdon - CBC News

5 Hours Ago

Serenity Edmonton
Serenity was four years old when she died of severe head trauma in an Edmonton hospital. (Supplied)
Children should never be allowed to live in the same home where a little girl named Serenity suffered fatal injuries, says an Alberta child welfare expert.

"They all should have been automatically removed, immediately. There shouldn't have been unequal treatment of the children," said Diann Castle, a Calgary-based lawyer specializing in family law.

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"Why would we say the house was unfit to care for three children and leave the other children in it? It's just unexplainable. There is no explanation for such a conduct."

Serenity was four years old when she died of acute head trauma. She weighed only 18 pounds. Her skull was fractured and her body was covered in lacerations and purple contusions. Her body also showed signs of sexual assault.

'God only knows': Serenity's mother concerned about children living in former foster home
Before her death in September 2014, the little girl was living with relatives on a central Alberta reserve in a foster care arrangement under the kinship care program.

But when she was still clinging to life in Edmonton hospital, custody of Serenity and her two siblings was transferred back their biological mother. The two siblings were apprehended from the home.

However, other children in the home — up to six grandchildren of the former foster parents — stayed behind.

The circumstances of Serenity's death remain under investigation by RCMP.

'History will repeat itself'

The decision to leave the remaining children in the home is indefensible, Castle believes.

"I have certainly no understanding as to why that would happen, particularly with respect to the horrific circumstances that led to Serenity and her siblings being removed from the home," said Castle, who described the situation as appalling. "I was appalled by the facts of this case.

"It would seem to me that history will repeat itself and it's not a safe home for any child living there."

Children's Services Minister Danielle Larivee has said there is no evidence of abuse against the remaining children, and she reiterated that statement Thursday.

She said the province needs clear evidence that a child has been abused before they can been apprehended.

"Obviously, if there was evidence of abuse of a specific child, apprehension would happen. That's what we're here for, to keep the children safe and we're continuing to prioritise their safety."

Larivee said critics of the government response do not have all of the facts, but she declined to provide new information on the case.

She said the ministry is still consulting their lawyers to see if any new details can be made public.

"I understand the frustration that people have with not having those details," she said.

"I would love to disclose all those details. Unfortunately that's not in the best interest of the children involved ... but, in the meantime, I'm confident that we've done everything we can to protect the safety of those children."


'It's shocking': Opposition asks why children are still living in Serenity foster home
The minister said biological children cannot be removed from homes simply because a criminal investigation is underway.

Serenity
This photo of Serenity, taken by her mother, shows how thin the four-year-old had become. She died several days after this photo was taken in September 2014. (Supplied)
Castle said the legal threshold for apprehending children has been met in this case. The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act dictates children can be removed from the home if there is a probable risk that they will be exposed to neglect, emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Guardians unable or unwilling to provide the necessaries of life, or adequately protect children from harm can also be deemed unfit.

Media has Serenity foster home facts wrong, but minister won't correct record
In the 30 years she's worked in the field, Castle has dealt with dozens of cases where children were apprehended from the home for the mere suspicion of child abuse.

"If you have a history of abuse, and you go give birth to a baby at the Foothills [Medical Centre], they will apprehend that baby immediately and you will not get that child back," she said.

Castle believes the kinship care program is struggling to meet its mandate to help place apprehended Indigenous children in safe homes with blood relatives. The reserve-based system is overtaxed and underfunded, and not as reactive as it should be to suspected cases of abuse or neglect, she said.

'I'm just going to keep fighting'

The program operates under the same set of legal restrictions as standard child welfare programs, but there is bureaucratic apathy and bias which makes these children more vulnerable, Castle claims.

"The standards are different and no one says it aloud and maybe I shouldn't be saying it out loud … but there's a difference," Castle said, speaking to her experience in the courtroom. "There are problems and the children suffer for it."

Premier, minister under fire over latest revelations in Serenity case
Larivee said workers with the designated First Nations agency were in contact with the family Wednesday. She repeated her statement that the well-being of the children who remain in the home is regularly monitored but said privacy legislation prevents her from saying how often.

"It just seems like they don't care," Serenity's biological mother said Thursday. "Serenity and my other kids that are still alive have suffered serious, serious abuse in that home," she claims.

Frustrated with the government response, Serenity's mother wants to keep her daughter's case in the spotlight. She's helping to organize a rally at the Alberta legislature next Friday calling on the government to investigate failures in the child welfare system.

"I want justice for my daughter, but I also want justice for the all the other kids that are still suffering," she said.

"I'm just going to keep fighting."
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Danielle Larivee won't correct the record

Danielle Larivee won't correct the record | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
NEWS
Children's services minister decries 'outdated facts' in Serenity case, but won't correct the record
Stuart Thomson
Today at 7:55 AM

Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee announced Thursday the province is moving 65 housing units used after the Slave Lake fire over to Fort McMurray. FILE PHOTO
article
A day after news broke that children were still living in a home where a girl died while in government care, Children's Services Minister Danielle Larivee said the opposition and media have been using outdated facts.

Larivee, however, wouldn't provide new information to correct the record, citing privacy laws.

Media reports and questions from the Opposition in question period stated that six children were living in the home where Serenity, who was in government care, suffered from malnutrition and eventual death from a traumatic head injury in 2014.

Larivee said that information is "years old," but wouldn't say how many children now live in the home. She said authorities were in "intermittent" contact with the family and they had been contacted as recently as Wednesday. But she wouldn't say exactly how often child-welfare checks were made.

"I understand that's it's frustrating that in cases of child protection I can't always provide you with the degree of information you are looking for. I understand Albertans' frustration and I am frustrated, too," Larivee told a news conference at the Alberta legislature Wednesday.

Larivee said this information has to be approved by the legal department and she is working to get some of it released.

"It feels like the minister is running and hiding from the facts because the facts are inconvenient to be out in the public for the minister. That's what it feels like," said Progressive Conservative caucus leader Ric McIver.

"We are determined to get some answers. We don't intend to let up on this premier and this minister because we believe it's in Albertans' best interests to have more facts put on the table," said McIver.

Serenity’s death led recently to a ministerial panel on the child intervention system to help fix what Premier Rachel Notley described as “systemic” problems. A criminal investigation into her death is still underway, but no charges have been laid.

Serenity's story dominated question period last fall and Wildrose Leader Brian Jean attacked the government over the new revelations Tuesday and Wednesday.

"There is a muzzle on the facts, and that muzzle is this government not telling Albertans what’s happened," said Jean.

sxthomson@postmedia.com

twitter.com/stuartxthomson
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Another Child Welfare Panel/Roundtable/Discussion/Research Group is pointless

Another Child Welfare Panel/Roundtable/Discussion/Research Group is pointless | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
May 10, 2017

Today - perhaps above all others - the realization another Panel/Roundtable/Discussion/Research Group is pointless is cemented in events unfolding:

An article by Stuart Thomson with the Journal was issued yesterday that apparently reveals other children who survive Serenity remain in the home.

'You can't paint this pretty': Alberta government confirms children still living in home where Serenity was assaulted

http://m.edmontonsun.com/2017/05/09/you-cant-paint-this-pretty-alberta-government-confirms-children-still-living-in-home-where-serenity-was-assaulted

First of all, Serenity's kohkom was not made aware of this fact until viewing the article online this morning and is rightfully shaken and devastated.

Like my own daughter, Samantha's case preceding Serenity's nearly a decade before, themes of failure keep over-lapping and repeating:

Samantha had not been viewed by her caseworker for 14 months. Serenity had not been viewed by her caseworker for 11 months.

The Ministry knew - their own notes indicate - belief that Samantha was in danger of sexual, emotional and physical trauma; that her needs were not being met. The Report is dated January 2006 and yet, Samantha remained in the placement for 5 more months, until June.



The home where Samantha resided continues to be open to vulnerable children. The home where Serenity resided - in which similar grave allegations are made - also has children continuing to live there. 

Kudos for the reporter's pointed question to the Minister: 

Would you feel safe were it YOUR own children in the home?

http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/940049987943/

Evasion of answer highlights continued scripted responses towards injuries and deaths of children in care. 

Although Government has changed Leadership, obviously children remain  prey.

Avoidance of key stakeholders - families of deceased children and survivors of the Child Welfare System - continue to be evaded in favour of scholars lacking lived experience. 

Stop killing our children!

Velvet Martin,
Founder of Samantha's Law
Spokesperson for Protecting Canadian Children

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'You can't paint this pretty': Alberta government confirms children still living in home where Serenity was assaulted

'You can't paint this pretty': Alberta government confirms children still living in home where Serenity was assaulted | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
http://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/you-cant-paint-this-pretty-alberta-government-confirms-children-still-living-in-home-where-serenity-was-assaulted#

'You can't paint this pretty': Alberta government confirms children still living in home where Serenity was assaulted Serenity, as a happy toddler riding her trike.STUART THOMSON More from Stuart Thomson Published on: May 9, 2017 | Last Updated: May 9, 2017 6:53 PM MDT Serenity, as a happy toddler riding her trike. SHARE ADJUST COMMENT PRINT Children are still living in the household where a girl in government care suffered from malnutrition, hypothermia and eventual death from a traumatic head injury, Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee confirmed Tuesday. Larivee said only evidence of abuse or neglect could lead to the children being apprehended and the ministry has been closely monitoring the household since Serenity died in 2014. She wouldn’t specify how often checks are made. “If there were safety concerns identified, they would have been removed from the home,” Larivee said at the legislature Tuesday, after an initial report was published by CBC Edmonton. A criminal investigation into Serenity’s death is still underway, but no charges have been laid. In speaking to reporters and during question period, Larivee and Premier Rachel Notley both stressed that the children in the home aren’t in government care. ”Those children are home. Those children are in their home,” said Larivee. “It is the policy of this government that we are following that we never place children in care into a setting where there is a criminal investigation involved,” said Notley. Wildrose Leader Brian Jean opened up question period blasting the government for “allowing what happened to Serenity to happen again.” “While we’ve been asking for answers on the death of Serenity, we don’t know if the other six children in that home are even safe today,” said Jean. Serenity’s death led recently to a ministerial panel on the child intervention system to help fix what Notley described as “systemic” problems. The panel has completed three months of meetings and made recommendations to improve the child death review process. Progressive Conservative panel member Ric McIver said the opposition had been cutting the government some slack with regards to the panel “because they said they cared.” He said allowing children to live in the home where Serenity was assaulted puts that into question. “It’s inexcusable. It’s incompetent. It’s uncaring,” said McIver. “I’m often disappointed around here, but seldom shocked,” he said. “I don’t need to exaggerate how bad this is. You can’t paint this pretty.” The case to apprehend the children would be made by the delegated First Nations child welfare authorities, or DFNA, on the reserve. These agencies are funded by the federal government but conform to provincial child welfare standards. Since their inception in the 1990s, the DFNAs have been chronically underfunded, receiving less funding per child than kids in provincial care off-reserve. sxthomson@postmedia.com twitter.com/stuartxthomson
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Alberta election: Will no one think of the children 2012

Alberta election: Will no one think of the children 2012 | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
‪2012 http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/alberta-election-will-no-one-think-of-the-children

Alberta Election: Will no one think of the children?

Paula Simons, Edmonton JournalPAULA SIMONS, EDMONTON JOURNAL
More from Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal
Published on: April 12, 2012 | Last Updated: April 12, 2012 2:21 PM MDT
SHARE ADJUST COMMENT PRINT

Cynical reporters – and really, there are no other kind – often laugh at politicians or community activists who fear-monger about the impact of various policy decisions on our kids.
“Will no one thing of the children?” we say to each other, in mocking tones, when people try to play the kiddie card to score political points.

But today, I actually want to ask the question in earnest myself. And not, I hope, in a cynical move to pluck your heart-strings.

On Wednesday, I took a “break” from covering the Alberta election campaign, to attend the sentencing of a young Metis woman, convicted of manslaughter in the death of her four-year-old niece. (To read Ryan Cormier’s story on the sentencing, click here. To read my own column on the tragic conclusion to this tragic affair, click right here.)


Due to the censorship of Alberta’s Child, Youth, and Family Enhancement Act, I can name neither the little girl, nor the aunt. The girl’s identity is forever hidden, even in death, because she was a foster child. The aunt’s name is hidden because to name her might identify the child, for whom she served as guardian.

I’ve been investigating this story, ever since the girl died in early 2009. (To read one of my first stories on the case, written with an assist from my colleague Elise Stolte, please do click here. It will provide you with a tremendous amount of background and context. )

Three years later, the aunt who struck the fatal blows has been found guilty and sentenced. But we’re still no closer to fixing the catastrophic failures of our child welfare system, the system that thought it was a good idea to place SIX neuro-compromised chidlren under the age of six in the care of a homeless young woman who had addiction issues and no parenting experience, all in the name of cultural sensitivity.


Obviously, we don’t want to re-create the world of residential schools, where we scooped up aboriginal children, willy-nilly, in the name of “saving” them, and sent them to boarding schools where they were stripped of their language, religion and culture, and often physically and sexually abused, into the bargain.


But leaving children in unsafe family situations is no solution, either.
Earlier this week, I asked all five of the major political parties in this election to respond to this story, and to the issues it raises. I had no response from either the Alberta Liberal or the New Democrats. The Wildrose Party sent me an excerpt from their policy book:

“Caseload management needs to be reviewed to ensure social workers are not

overburdened,” it reads.

“The cultural needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children are of

particular importance when intervening through use of residential care.

There needs to be a clear direction and mandate that allows all aboriginal

children to stay connected with their families and their communities.

Connection may take diverse forms and will be assessed and determined based

on the individual needs of the child and the input, expertise and knowledge

of the First Nation, Inuit and Métis people.”

That’s nicely libertarian and culturally sensitive. But, ironically, in this case, the Wildrose may be guilty of too much political correctness. A concern for family and cultural connection is admirable – but not at the expense of keeping children safe.

The Progressive Conservatives have a long and dismal track record on this file. But when I spoke with PC campaign spokesman Stephen Carter on Wednesday, he said that Alison Redford is very interested in changing the way we deliver foster care in this province – to move away from the 1950s volunteer model, towards a more professional system, where foster parents would be paid for the work they do.


“She’s comfortable with the professionalization of foster families, with giving them the training and the support they need, and then holding them accountable as professionals,” Carter told me.

Carter said the party is also committed to improving early intervention services to help keep families at risk coping and together. But, Carter acknowledged, aboriginal child welfare is such a touchy, politically sensitive issue, no party wants to make it part of their campaign strategy, or bring it up as a central election issue.

“It’s tricky,” he says, of tackling the aboriginal child welfare crisis. “It’s tough to do. It’s easy to talk about, but it’s hard to do.”

Actually, Carter’s only half-right. It isn’t easy to talk about our aboriginal child welfare crisis. That’s why no party wants to. It’s the unwelcome elephant in the room. But this is an issue that every party should be thinking about. Our child welfare system is overloaded, we don’t have enough foster homes to cope, and children in care are dying at a disturbing rate. In Edmonton, more than 70 per cent of the kids in care are aboriginal – which is stunning, given that aboriginal people make up less than 10 per cent of the population of the city.

But it isn’t just our child welfare system that’s breaking under the strain. Our schools and our teachers struggle to cope with teaching kids who come from transient, troubled families, kids who arrive in kindergarten without adequate language and social skills, kids who come to class hungry. Often, aboriginal children thrive in elementary school, where they get more individualized attention, but then lose their way when they hit junior high school. Our aboriginal high school completion rates are dismal enough – but they are artificially inflated, since they only count the kids who enroll in high school, and relatively few First Nations and Metis students even make it through grade 9.

And when those kids grow up, it’s our health care system, and our criminal justice system, that bear the consequences of our child welfare failures.

Want to lower education costs, health care costs, law enforcement costs? Investing in aboriginal children and families would be a prudent, yet visionary, place to start.

The only party leader who was eager to speak to me about this vexing subject was Glenn Taylor, of the Alberta Party.

Taylor’s wife Donna is Metis – part of what Taylor calls a large and robust aboriginal family. Taylor’s wife was actually a successful product of kinship care. She was adopted as a young child, by extended family. Her adoptive father, Taylor’s 82-year-old father-in-law is a Status Treaty Indian, and a residential school survivor. His mother-in-law is Metis.

Yet despite his in-law’s painful residential school experiences, despite his wife’s own successful adoption by family members, Taylor has seen enough disasters to be deeply skeptical of the ideology of kinship care.

”We need a much stronger screening process, and much more support,” he says.


“It makes a lot of sense that we try to put foster children from broken families in homes that respect their First Nations or Metis heritage, but that cannot be our only consideration. Too often, in our haste to place the child, we’re not looking at the family situation. It’s too easy to just immediately place them with another family member. We have to look beyond just placing children with family, to what’s in the best interest of the child. We need to respect and understand cultural sensitivity, but not at the expense of the child’s safety.”

Taylor says front line social workers aren’t able to keep up with the scale of the crisis.

“The case load is unbelievable, the workload is insurmountable and then we blame them,” he says. “This problem is unbelievably huge in the aboriginal community, and the further north you go, the worse it gets. It’s something that we sweep under the carpet, and we shouldn’t. It just goes around and around, and it’s generational.”

“How do we not look beyond what’s expedient, to what’s right?”

Taylor and his upstart party haven’t been able to get a lot of traction in this election. A few individual Alberta Party candidates are running solid, competitive campaigns in a handful of ridings, but Taylor, as leader, hasn’t been able to make a strong impression on voters. He’s not been invited to take part in tonight’s leaders debate.

(I understand why a party standing at 2% in the polls, with no elected members, isn’t represented. But I’m still rather disappointed. At the Edmonton Journal’s recent health care pre-election forum, Taylor distinguished himself as the wittiest debater, with the cleverest comebacks. His humour, and his good humour, might have been a welcome counter-balance.)

But perhaps, having nothing to lose gives Taylor a little more freedom to speak to one of the most important, most ignored, most politically difficult challenges facing our province. Here’s hoping he keeps it up. We might not hear his voice in Thursday’s TV debate. But we need more voices speaking with passion, courage, and knowledge on the topic few politicians have the gumption to address.



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Crisis management for two-tier child welfare system 

Crisis management for two-tier child welfare system  | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
Paula Simons: Crisis management for Alberta's two-tier child welfare system
BY PAULA SIMONS, EDMONTON JOURNAL
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: MAY 8, 2017

Yvonne Johnson, director of the child welfare system for the Bigstone Cree Nation in northern Alberta. Taken Monday, May...
Paula Simons / Edmonton Journal

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“Having two caseworkers looking after 56 cases, it’s just not doable. It’s straight crisis management.”

That was the blunt truth delivered to the province’s all-party committee on child intervention by Yvonne Johnson, director of the child welfare system for the Bigstone Cree Nation in northern Alberta.

On Monday, Johnson and dozens of her First Nations child welfare colleagues from across Alberta delivered the most passionate, expert and honest testimony the all-party panel has yet heard. These weren’t career bureaucrats protecting their system. These were First Nations workers, on the front lines, delivering blistering insights into just how dysfunctional Alberta’s child welfare system is.


Back in the early 1990s, the province and the federal government set up a system of “delegated First Nations” child welfare authorities, or DFNAs. The idea was that they’d be funded by Ottawa, but conform to provincial child welfare standards.

But for decades, DFNAs have received less funding per child than kids off reserve in the care of the province. That imbalance endured even after a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision told Ottawa to equalize access to vital services.

Take, as one example, a kid who needs major dental surgery, or braces to correct severe jaw issues. If the child is in foster care off reserve, the province covers those costs. But a child on-reserve? The federal government generally refuses to pay. Even such things as insulin pumps and leukemia drugs don’t get funded.

“We apply and apply again, and are turned down,” says Teresa Steinhauer, director of Tribal Chief Child and Family Services East in the Kehiwin/Frog Lake area, told the panel.

One of the smartest ways to keep families together, protect kids and lower costs is to help struggling families before things get to a crisis point. But Ottawa provides no funding to DFNAs for preventative care or early interventions. Sometimes, the only way First Nations agencies can get help for families is to apprehend kids and put them in foster care, even if they don’t need to be there.


DFNAs struggle to hire and retain staff. Turnover is high — especially since average salaries are about $15,000 to $20,000 less than comparable positions in the provincial system.

“Recruitment is very difficult — there’s no housing money for families, let alone professionals coming to communities,” Johnson told the panel. “People want to make changes, but there’s nowhere for them to live. There’s no job security. What I’m trying to say is if you put an option in front of me — work for the province and have these benefits, these unions, this pay cheque, or the other option is to come and work for the reserve — you may not have any place to live, there’s no good pension plan, no union, no job security, what are you going to choose?”

Debbie LaRiviere, with the delegated child welfare authority that serves five bands near Lesser Slave Lake, says there’s another complication. Although DNFAs are supposed to be run at arm’s length from band councils, LaRiviere says that’s hard when they have to apprehend, for example, a chief’s nieces or nephews.

“We can’t recruit staff, because people are afraid of the politics,” she told the committee.

The result? One-third of First Nations children in Alberta receive “cut-rate” child welfare services from an underfunded, understaffed band welfare office. And these are some of our most vulnerable, impoverished children. They need more support, not less.

In truth, there’s little this panel — or the Notley government — can do to force Ottawa to provide the funds our bands need, beyond some overdue public shaming.

But Alberta could finally step in to bridge the gap, especially it comes to early intervention and preventative care, to make kids on reserve equal Albertans.

Beyond money, we need to knit together our fractured system. Alberta’s 17 DFNAs operate in isolation from one another. Wouldn’t it make sense for neighbouring agencies to share resources and expertise, to work together on things like staff recruitment and training and hiring specialized services? And for DFNAs to work as true and respected partners to the rest of the child welfare system, instead of being treated as Cinderella stepchildren.

These problems aren’t new. They’ve been analyzed and studied for years. Small wonder many of Monday’s presenters were skeptical that this panel will change anything.

“I hope this is a consultation process — not just paying lip service,” said Steinhauer.

“You are change makers,” added Judy McGilvery, from Saddle Lake. “Hear our voices. Help us help our kids.”

Related

Alberta child welfare panel gets a First Nation voice
Some of the stories about Serenity, which inspired the all-party child intervention panel
Paula Simons speaks to Canadaland about Alberta's secretive child welfare system
psimons@postmedia.com

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Do you do you believe in fairy tales? Norm Nelson

Do you do you believe in fairy tales? Norm Nelson | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
Norm Nelson's work; an incredible piece to read:

Do you believe in fairy tales? https://normaverage.blog/2017/04/24/do-you-believe-in-fairy-tales/ via @norm_average

Norm Average
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Do you believe in fairy tales?

I mean the true concept of the creation of the story and the story teller. The story teller themselves need experience in order to tell the story or is the imagination so grande it can spin a tale that one might feel it was for them?

Can ones experiences written just right, insight change in the very darkness the idea was drawn from?

I guess this would depend on the reader.

An endless gaze of eyes of all shapes and colors. Hosted by culture, experience and geography. Each one intricately different and yet still so much the same. Some looking to the hero for answers and others to the villain with empathy for their cause. Some of our heroes are even the bad guys as we change cultures and the elite elevated to gods.

As a child the stories my dad told were not your average fairy tales. He had a silver tongue that would turn bar fights and flantering, into battles and distressed damsels. An eviction notice into survival camping and scams into plans. My dad was my fairy tale, he was unique and sweetened any situation with words. Most of all he kept the bad away regardless of how close the devil was. Our journeys took us to so many places that schools out numbered fingers on my hand and the word “step mom” had more faces than i can remember.

This was my life and the only thing I ever knew. Painted by an artist who’s brush stroke gave courage and pride.Took our hardships and pain and made them drinking songs and bragging rights. He was and still is the hero of my story no matter how complicated of a man he could be the dad he was protected me from his demons.

The dark isn’t safe.

It was when he was gone that danger would close in. When people would transform into the very creatures that terrify us in the dark. You see the stories that I was told are the same stories that took him away. When Robin Hood became the thief and the Sheriff was just in his conquest. For thieves the law isn’t the only fear, it’s your comrades and most trusted.

My earliest memory of the darkness was just a taste. My father had gone to prison, what would be a cycle to come. His wife whom I’d like to call my mom was left with my brother and I. She was the safest I felt away from my dad in all my life. As a child I wouldn’t know this but writing with experience, she is the model of the word mom and not all would treat me like she did.

As the father I am now I look back with admiration for some, being left alone with kids and all the debts and responsibilities. Life in the shadows creates debts to scary figures, with rules of collection that are not kid friendly. I remember the pounding at the door as she yelled to the men on the other side. Watching her move frantically and making phone calls as the men kept trying to get in. Words blur and in all the commotion I’m in the basement clenched by my mom until the noises subsided.

Later in life I would learn she called a bigger darkness that came first in line on debts, the reason why the noises stopped.

Better days.

I’m not clear on the circumstances but I do know two things happened before I was back with my dad. She took us far from the dangers and my time spent with her are some of my best childhood memories. She also gave me a gift in life, a brother.

There where many in between places before our next stop.

Regardless of the shadows my dad made it fun.

He came from a generation where single dads did not get assistance. Although his choices as a man might be considered faulty, his moments as a dad where remarkable. His life choices are also the link to the women in this blog I called mom.

We went from townhouse block to apartments and from towns to towns. Like bandits we’d even hide out at family. Bedtime stories in grandpa’s basement or fire tales at our cousins. From city life to farm but the three of us where unstoppable.

On the farm was more about bonding brothers, we went everywhere together. Snow forts to egg fights, even showering in the rain.We’d helped our dad strip cars down. At eight years old I could drive a car well enough to drive my dad home on a bender. Some days after school when no one was home my brother and I would take the cars for a spin. It’s amazing what two brothers could do with the ability of not needing a key.

The stop.

The freedom in which my brother and I lived was due to the man not the dad. Through those journeys he brought home a stripper. Wild and crazy with hardcore crashes. She let us break all the rules and was left with us most the time. Her life was a party and that didn’t matter whether we where around or not. The first song i remember was a David Wilcox song. “Life for me is a river boat fantasy, watching the sun go down. Cocaine kisses and moonshine misses , that’s the life for me”.

She would throw bottles and run through the house naked chasing our dad with knives. She didn’t scare me, it was more a fear for my dad than of my safety.

When I say she let us break all the rules, that’s because so did she. Late nights while my dad was boosting cars she would tell his secrets. She told us of our older brother and that my mother was someone different. She took away the fantasies of his stories.

She also called all our moms when my father went back to prison. This defining moment has caused me more pain in life than I have the words to write. As an adult I understand but as a child i didn’t just loose my dad, I lost my brothers.

My dad had his demons, but my mom showed me hers.

I met my mom at the age of nine turning ten. It took me the better part of a year before I’d even entertain the thought of uttering the word mom. She was small and quiet like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with beer bottles instead of beakers.

There is no right way for me to write about her. No gift my dad may have bestowed on me to sweeten the experience with fantasy. She brought fear for the first time in my life. The fear for my life and more so the fear for hers. This small woman had a tenancy of hearing things wrong and attacking the biggest guy at the bar. She was like a caged animal at five foot four and if she believed it watch out!

Our second home was the bar which had a grill to allow that family friendly atmosphere. Lifers sitting at the counter and patio for sunny days. We’d switch between them according to whether or not we’d been kicked out or not.

This was my life: from working on the cars my dad stole to bouncing for an alcoholic.

Not all was bad with her as Dr. Jekyll would show remorse and guilt. The words “sorry it wont happen again”. Sometimes it would last and we would play mother and son. At these times I would learn the best of her. She would smile and try to act like she was ready to have a son. I say this as an adult as living with a child and without are very different things and that is a lot to get used to. She introduced me to family and through those family members a life time of memories.

The sins of the father.

After time I studied her, started to understand the triggers. How much alcohol and pills before the bear would came out. If I should come home at night or stay at a friends. If she got too drunk it got bad, but if she saw me as my dad it got worse. Mrs. Hyde would come out swinging and I’d be paying for her memories of my dad. I am my father’s son and because of this during her black outs, I felt what darkness really was.

You changed me and I am stronger now. I understand who you are and I forgive you.

I’ve learnt as a single dad what its like to earn, struggle and where to draw the line. Everyone of you taught me and from that I understand

” Think like a parent, not a MAN/WOMAN”

The complexities of the person can interfere with the training of the next generation.

I left the man I was to be the dad I am. Creating real memories that form good lives.

The moral of this story is……..

Kids remember everything!

I do, and I just turned 40!
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Journal columnist Paula Simons recognized for child welfare reporting

Journal columnist Paula Simons recognized for child welfare reporting | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/journal-columnist-paula-simons-recognized-for-child-welfare-reporting

Journal columnist Paula Simons recognized for child welfare reporting

Edmonton JournalEDMONTON JOURNAL
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Published on: May 2, 2017 | Last Updated: May 2, 2017 4:52 PM MDT
Serenity, in a photo taken in February 2014, seven months before her death. By then, her arms were already skeletal, and she had cuts and bruises on her face. A ministerial panel on child intervention has been meeting to find ways to prevent similar deaths.
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Work by Edmonton Journal columnist Paula Simons exposing critical gaps in Alberta’s child welfare system has been recognized by the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom.
Simons received an honorary mention Tuesday for her reporting and policy analysis surrounding the death of Serenity, a four-year-old First Nations foster child. The work prompted the provincial government to launch a ministerial panel on child intervention.

Starting with the column on Nov. 18, 2016, titled Her name was Serenity. Never forget it, Simons pushed government officials, RCMP and health-care workers for answers on why it took so long for Alberta’s medical examiner to release Serenity’s cause of death and why the child and youth advocate was denied a copy of the autopsy report.

The province’s ministerial panel is now reviewing the child death review process and child-welfare system.
“Paula’s courageous and dogged reporting on the troubling death of Serenity is just the latest important work she has done during her 21 years with the Journal to hold Alberta’s child-welfare system to account,” Journal editor Mark Iype said.

“She is one of Canada’s most indomitable champions of free speech and a free press.”

Geoff Leo and Paul Dornstauder of CBC Saskatchewan and Patrick Lagacé and his newspaper La Presse were co-winners of this year’s Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom Award.
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Child Welfare Panel needs to hear "lived experience"

Child Welfare Panel needs to hear "lived experience" | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
Child intervention panel needs to hear “lived experience”

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More from Windspeaker News
Tuesday, April 25th, 2017 5:24pm


Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff with two reports from last year containing a combined 20 recommendations: Toward a Better Tomorrow and Voices for Change. (Photo: Shari Narine)
“It can’t just be a political process and I’m really quite concerned about that.” ~ Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff about the ministerial panel on child intervention.

By Shari Narine
Windspeaker Contributor
EDMONTON



As the ministerial panel on child intervention moves on to its next round of deliberations, Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff is hopeful focusing on the death review process will have opened eyes.

“I think the fact they started there helped them to understand some of the complexities, and as they go on to the second phase, those complexities are just going to grow,” said Graff.

Those complexities centre around the need to address child intervention services in a holistic manner, and not on an incident-by-incident piecemeal fashion.

“There are no simple answers. If there were, these issues would have been dealt with a long time ago,” said Graff.

And the complexity of the issues surrounding Indigenous children and families in the child intervention system can only be understood by involving those who have experienced that system, Graff believes, especially considering the make-up of the panel.

Graff says the panel was one opportunity for a “full and equal partnership between governments and Aboriginal communities…,” a recommendation that came from the Youth Advocate’s 2016 special report, Voices for Change. The report examined the over-representation of Indigenous children in government care.

But Child Welfare Minister Danielle Larivee appointed no Indigenous people to the 13-member all-party panel. The only person with Indigenous ancestry is Patti Laboucane-Benson, with Native Counselling Services of Alberta, who is one of three experts to the panel.

“So where I have some optimism is that if they recognize, for example, they need to hear from young people with lived experience…. I think it’s the same with Indigenous participation. They have to find a way to make it so that these people’s voices are heard. And they listen and they make the shifts that make sense given what they’ve heard. It can’t just be a political process and I’m really quite concerned about that,” said Graff.

The panel met with a number of Indigenous representatives and groups in its first round of hearings, as well as Graff.

In this next round, Graff wants the panel to listen to the Youth Advocate’s youth advisory panel.

“(If) they hear from those young people, they’ll hear something different than anybody else. The change they need to make to the child welfare system has to be informed by what those young people have to say,” he said.

After two-and-a-half months of sittings, in April the panel agreed to draft recommendations that included increased authority for Child and Youth Advocate office, greater accountability for preventable deaths, timely completion of reviews, better supports for families, greater cultural sensitivity, and improved information sharing.

While no details have accompanied the recommendations, Graff points out that the concepts of those recommendations are not new—whether they were voiced through his office or any of the multiple previous special reports tabled.

“We also are at that in-between place where the panel is making these recommendations, but then those recommendations have to translate into some sort of legislation that provides specific guidance,” he said.

What will drive this legislation, says Graff, comes down to the single question he and his team heard most often when interviewing people for the Voices for Change report: “Will it make a difference” what the Indigenous community has to say?

http://www.windspeaker.com/news/windspeaker-news/child-intervention-panel-needs-to-hear-lived-experience/Child ;
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Haunted by Juli-Anna

Haunted by Juli-Anna | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/new-brunswick/lost-children-juli-anna-profile-1.4018804

Haunted by Juli-Anna: An 'agonizingly painful' preventable death
By the time Juli-Anna died at 27 months, the neglect was well-known in community
START OF AUTHOR
CBC Investigates
Karissa Donkin · CBC News
March 14, 2017
END OF AUTHOR

Juli-Anna would be 15 years old today. Her grandmother remembers her as a curious little girl who loved her family. (CBC)
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They vowed there would never be another Jacqueline Brewer.
Left alone in her crib for days, with nothing to drink and no one to love her, Jackie's body lay lifeless for more than nine hours before anyone noticed.
Her death at 28 months led to promises of more social workers and better training to detect neglect.
Then it happened again.

* The Lost Children: 'A child that dies shouldn't be anonymous'
Juli-Anna St. Peter was a month younger than Jackie. And, as happened with Jackie, warning after warning —  at least 16 — poured into social services about Juli-Anna's family.

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They told of a mother hitch-hiking in the middle of winter with her children barely clothed. Of children carted from home to home, without enough to eat. There were allegations of physical and sexual abuse.
The complaints came from the mayor of Canterbury, an emergency room doctor and the children's grandmother, among others.
But a formal child protection investigation into Juli-Anna's family was never launched.
And in the early morning hours of April 13, 2004, Juli-Anna stopped breathing.
She was rushed to hospital in Woodstock, but doctors could not save her. They were too late.
A grandmother's worries
As soon as she got the call, Donna Hitchcock knew something was wrong with one of her granddaughters, who no longer lived with her son, Allison.
Hitchcock was living in Alberta but often worried about the girls. Who were they staying with? Were they getting enough to eat? She fielded calls from back home in New Brunswick, from people who told her the children weren't wearing coats or shoes in winter.
Before Hitchock moved away, it wasn't unusual for the girls' mother, Anna Mooers, to drop them off, promising she'd be gone a few hours but not returning for days.
Sometimes, Juli-Anna and her older sister would wander alone down the road to their grandmother's house. When Hitchcock visited them, she would find the girls in dirty diapers, eating Cheezies for supper.
Juli-Anna died after a pen-like toy got into her small body, perforating her bowel. It's not clear, even after a trial, how the pen ended up inside her body.

Anna Mooers was convicted of criminal negligence causing death for the death of her daughter, Juli-Anna St. Peter, in 2004. (CBC)
Anna Mooers was convicted of criminal negligence causing death. Her boyfriend at the time, Brent Curtis Hathaway, was acquitted of the same charge.
Mooers told the court she loved her daughter. She never thought she was sick enough to die, she said.
"This case is not about a lack of love," Justice Paulette Garnett said in her sentencing decision. "It is about a lack of care."
She sentenced Mooers to 27 months in jail, the length of time her daughter lived.
An 'agonizingly painful' death
Hitchcock estimates she called social services between 10 and 15 times to complain about the treatment of her grandchildren. One week, she called every day.
She wanted someone to show Mooers how to take care of them.
"They would check it out, was pretty much all I got," Hitchcock said.
"Then it got to the point of, 'Well, you're just the grandmother. Maybe you're just taking things out of context.'"
The referrals to child protective services came from credible sources, yet officials deemed them unsubstantiated every time.
"The department had tons of opportunities to protect that girl," said Bernard Richard, New Brunswick's former child and youth advocate. He now holds a similar position in British Columbia.

Bernard Richard, now the representative for children and youth in British Columbia, warned that New Brunswick must put more resources into detecting child neglect. (CBC)
Richard fought in court to access Juli-Anna's child protection files. His report on Juli-Anna's life  —  with the child's haunting face on the cover — concluded she could have been saved.
More than that, she should have been saved.
Medical evidence, Richard wrote, showed Juli-Anna was very sick for at least three days before she died "and would have suffered greatly."
"Her death was agonizingly painful."
A grandfather of eight, Richard thinks of Juli-Anna often. He's visited her grave several times.
Her face stares back at him from a portrait on the wall of his office, and motivates his work as the watchdog for British Columbia youth.
"A needless death of a 27-month-old little girl," he said.
Nearly a decade later, Richard wonders if enough was learned from Juli-Anna and Jackie. If history will continue to repeat itself.
'I'm really sad because she died'
A little girl stands under the haze of two dark storm clouds. It's raining and she's crying.
"I'm really sad because she died," the girl tells a social worker. "It feels like the world is empty without her."
"I wish I could see her again."

Donna Hitchcock tried to warn child protection officials about the conditions Juli-Anna was living in. The children remained in the home, despite multiple complaints. (CBC)
This is what comes to the girl's mind when she thinks of the death of her younger sister, Juli-Anna. The scene is captured in a drawing presented as a victim impact statement at the sentencing of the girl's mother, Anna Mooers.
The girl, only a child herself, was the de-facto caregiver for Juli-Anna, making sure she was fed and happy.
When Juli-Anna refused to eat or drink for several days, her sister — whose name is protected by a publication ban — tried desperately to save her.
She lay in a bed a few feet away as Juli-Anna slowly slipped away.
Only four at the time of her sister's death, the girl blamed herself.
Juli-Anna was the "ultimate victim," the girl's foster mother wrote to the court. But there were other casualties.
"The children who survived will forever have the challenge of rising above the pain and despair that the actions of Miss Mooers has had on their lives."
The foster mother called for the girl's death to mean something.
"May the death of Juli-Anna St. Peter be a new beginning in the way we respond to child neglect, so that her legacy will come to mean more than just the awful circumstances around her death."
Reminders of Juli-Anna
Grief and guilt have haunted Hitchcock too.
Shortly after returning to Alberta, she saw two girls about the same age as Juli-Anna and her sister. She burst into tears and had to take time off from her job at Tim Hortons.
More than a decade later, Juli-Anna still crosses her grandmother's mind every day. Some days are good. Others are bad.
"What if I had have stayed there? What if I hadn't come out to Alberta? Would she have still been alive? Would she have been with me? That's always on my mind, wondering."

Juli-Anna St. Peter died in 2004 from a perforated bowel after a small, pen-like toy made its way inside of her. She would be 15 now. (CBC)
She remembers hearing about the death of Jackie Brewer in Saint John and wondering how, in a city full of people, a little girl could be forgotten. That same system couldn't save Juli-Anna either.
Hitchcock doesn't believe her granddaughter got justice. She was "just a name" in headlines, she said. Maybe now a forgotten one.
"I just hope that all of this will save other children, that they will open up their eyes and realize they have to go in there," Hitchcock said.
"They have to help these children. Nobody else can help them."
Juli-Anna is buried in a small graveyard overlooking the St. John River in Hillman, near Woodstock.
Her gravestone is marked by lyrics from an old gospel song.
"There'll be no sadness, no sorrow / No trouble, trouble I see / There will be peace in the valley for me, for me."
Juli-Anna would be 15 now.

Part 1: The Lost Children: The secret life of death by neglect
Jackie Brewer, the 2-year-old who was ignored to death
How New Brunswick's child death review system works
Part 2: The Lost Children: 'A child that dies shouldn't be anonymous'
Haunted by Juli-Anna: An 'agonizingly painful' preventable death
Part 3: The Lost Children: Change on horizon for First Nations child welfare
Mona Sock, a life stolen by abuse
Part 4: The Lost Children: Government weighs privacy over transparency in child deaths
Baby Russell: A few minutes of life, then a knife in the heart
Do you have a tip about this story? Get in touch with CBC New Brunswick Investigates by clicking here.


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A perilous balance

A perilous balance | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/new-brunswick/lost-children-perilous-balance-1.4019736

A perilous balance: Government gives weight to privacy in response to child deaths
Advocates say children stand better chance of growing up if public is kept informed
CBC Investigates
Karissa Donkin • Shane Fowler • CBC News
March 16, 2017

Advocates say the New Brunswick government must be more open about its child death review system. (CBC)
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The details were shocking.
A newborn baby stabbed in the heart, doused with gasoline and set on fire by his father, the person who was supposed to protect him.
The 2009 murder of Baby Russell inside a tiny cabin in rural Charlotte County prompted calls for more help for at-risk mothers and babies.
* Baby Russell: A few minutes of life, then a knife in the heart
Then the case slipped out of the headlines.
Baby Russell was one of at least 53 at-risk children who have died from unnatural causes in the past two decades, a CBC News investigation has found. 

It's been eight years since Baby Russell was killed in Moores Mills, near St. Stephen. The police tape still hangs from a tree in the woods where his body was found. (CBC)
The deaths were referred to New Brunswick's child death review committee, which makes recommendations aimed at keeping children safe.
But most of the committee's work happens in the shadows, leaving the public with few details about how vulnerable children are dying in the province.
It means the calls for change — along with the anger and horror — usually fade with time.
"It didn't seem like there was the kind of response to address that situation, to understand that killing to help us avoid such terrible situations in the future," said Green Party Leader David Coon, who was living in Charlotte County when the baby was killed.
"It just disappeared in a way. I feel like that's what the system is doing, is 'disappearing' child deaths."
A balancing act
Critics say the public should know more about New Brunswick's child death review system.
In addition to Coon, the Progressive Conservatives and the province's child and youth advocate have called for more transparency.
They want the government to be more accountable for what it does or doesn't do with the recommendations it receives after a child dies.
But the provincial government has resisted those calls, saying the law prevents it from talking about how children are dying. 
"We just can't give that information out," Families and Children Minister Stephen Horsman said. He told CBC News that most child deaths have been "accidents." 
How much should the public know about how children are dying? And how do you balance privacy with public interest?
Sherry Bordage sees the answer in her military background.

Sherry Bordage tried to warn social services about the horrid conditions Jackie was living in. Still, her niece was lost. (CBC)
The aunt of Jackie Brewer, whose 1996 death prompted the creation of a child death review committee, wants to see child death reports released, with personal details, such as names, redacted.
"If the Canadian Armed Forces can vet documents and release them to the public in order to release pertinent information that the public has a right to know, certainly the Department of Social Services can do the same."
Bordage believes the secrecy surrounding the child death review doesn't do her niece's memory justice.
How other provinces do it
Other provinces may provide a roadmap for change.
Bernard Richard was New Brunswick's first child and youth advocate. He has criticized the child and death review committee's structure, arguing the committee should report to an independent body instead of to New Brunswick's chief coroner.
Now British Columbia's watchdog for youth, Richard said there's "much more transparency" when a child in care in that province dies.
"If B.C. can make those kind of improvements, I would hope that New Brunswick can do so as well," he said in an interview.

Del Graff, Alberta's child and youth advocate, says people need to know the context behind recommendations made after a child's death. (CBC)
Until three years ago, a publication ban silenced people who wanted to discuss the deaths of children in care in Alberta, including family members.
The government lifted the publication ban, after the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald found the province was underreporting the number of children dying in care.
When Alberta child and youth advocate Del Graff investigates the death of an at-risk child, the public report includes details about what happened to that child. The report uses a pseudonym to protect the child's identity.
An annual report details how at-risk children are dying and the follow-up on Graff's recommendations — much more information than is available in New Brunswick.
Graff said the public needs to know what led to a recommendation for change.
"When the public gets the context for the recommendations, they care much more about whether they're implemented," he said in an interview.
"They understand what the messages we're trying to convey to government are."
'Appalling' secrecy
When New Brunswick's child death review committee was introduced in 1997, politicians hailed it as a way to prevent another Jacqueline Brewer.
But opposition politicians say the committee isn't doing the job it was set up to do.

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'My question is, why the secrecy?'
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'My question is, why the secrecy?' 0:35
"It actually is appalling to learn there's this kind of secrecy surrounding the work of the child death review committee," Coon said.  "It makes no sense to me that it's such a hush-hush endeavour."
Both he and Dorothy Shephard, the Progressive Conservative critic for families and children say the public knows very little about child death reviews in New Brunswick.
Shephard admitted even she knows little about how the province's child death review system works.
"When the public knows more, and there's more interest garnered in the public, then things can change," she said.
She wants to see the child death review committee release an annual report and more detailed public reports after a child dies.
Coon suggested going a step further and having a committee of MLAs hold government to account on recommendations made by both the child and youth advocate and the child death review committee.
"Why are they hiding behind this veil of secrecy?" he asked. "It doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
"The recommendations have to be in context. We have to have a body that will act on them to ensure they're implemented. Otherwise, really, we've got an ineffectual child death review committee."
The Gallant government hasn't committed to making any changes to New Brunswick's child death review system.
In fact, Horsman said New Brunswick is leading the country in child protection.
"We're doing a lot of great work here, and you're bringing up stories that are 13, 20 years ago."

Part 1: The Lost Children: The secret life of death by neglect
Jackie Brewer, the 2-year-old who was ignored to death
How New Brunswick's child death review system works
Part 2: The Lost Children: 'A child that dies shouldn't be anonymous'
Haunted by Juli-Anna: An 'agonizingly painful' preventable death
Part 3: The Lost Children: Change on horizon for First Nations child welfare
Mona Sock, a life stolen by abuse
Part 4: The Lost Children: Government weighs privacy over transparency in child deaths
Baby Russell: A few minutes of life, then a knife in the heart
Do you have a tip about this story? Get in touch with CBC New Brunswick Investigates by clicking here.

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New Brunswick Child Advocate Wants the Power to Investigate Deaths 

New Brunswick Child Advocate Wants the Power to Investigate Deaths  | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/new-brunswick/lost-children-advocate-powers-1.4028892

Youth advocate wants power to investigate child deaths
New Brunswick government says the system in place now is 'excellent'
CBC Investigates
Karissa Donkin • Shane Fowler • CBC News
March 17, 2017

New Brunswick child and youth advocate Norm Bossé wants the power to investigate child deaths. (CBC)
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Child and youth advocate Norm Bossé is calling for the power to investigate and publicly report on the deaths of children known to child protection officials.
At least 53 of those children have died from unnatural causes in the past two decades, a CBC News investigation has found.
* 'It's really a scandal': Reasons for 53 deaths of at-risk children hidden by secretive committee
* A perilous balance: Government gives weight to privacy in response to child deaths
* 'A child that dies shouldn't be anonymous,' ex-youth advocate argues
Their deaths were investigated by the province's child death review committee, which reports to the chief coroner.
The committee's reports are not public.

Bossé is one of the few people allowed to see the child death review reports.
But there's a catch. His office doesn't have the power to investigate or tell the public what the reports say.
It means the public is left in the dark, with little information on how at-risk children are dying.

Allowing an independent office to investigate would add another layer of transparency, Bossé said in an interview broadcast Friday on Information Morning Fredericton.
"That could result in making sure the public is aware of how these deaths occur and how we can prevent them," he said.
Government says system is already 'excellent'
The government hasn't committed to giving Bossé's office that power, saying the child death review system in place now is already "excellent."
"We are ready to listen to suggestions as we always do," Environment and Local Government Minister Serge Rousselle said Thursday.
"He can put it in the next annual report. If he wants to come and meet us, we are open to that. But I'm just saying, this is news to me."
Rousselle, the cabinet minister designated to speak on the issue Thursday, questioned why the child and youth advocate's office hasn't made this suggestion before.
But former advocate Bernard Richard called for more independent child death reviews as early as 2008, when he reported on the death of Juli-Anna St. Peter.

Juli-Anna St. Peter was 27 months old when she died in 2004. She would be 15 years old now. (CBC)
Richard had to fight the provincial government in court to gain access to 27-month-old Juli-Anna's child protection records.
"Measures should have been put in place to give it independence from the government," Bossé said.
"To my knowledge, that's never been done."
Room for improvement
According to Bossé, youth advocates in at least five other provinces have a mandate to investigate the deaths of children in care.
In some provinces, including Alberta, the details are published with the child's name protected under a pseudonym.
If given the power, Bossé said his office would need more resources to properly investigate the deaths.
He would also want "unrestricted" ability to investigate fully. That would include the power to tell the public its findings.
"You can't give me the powers and say, 'But you can't produce a report,'" Bossé said. "That's unheard of. If we are independent legislative offices, then we have to be completely independent."

Families and Children Minister Stephen Horsman says the province already has the best child protection policies in the country. (CBC)
The provincial government says privacy legislation restricts it from speaking publicly about how children under government watch are dying.
It also says child death reports are considered confidential advice to a minister.
Families and Children Minister Stephen Horsman has questioned how much information the public wants to know about these deaths.
But Bossé said people care about children and their safety.
"I know that most people in New Brunswick do care about how these deaths occur and how to prevent them," he said.
Asked to grade New Brunswick's ability to protect at-risk children, Bossé assigned the system a B.
"There's room for improvement."

Part 1: The Lost Children: The secret life of death by neglect
Jackie Brewer, the 2-year-old who was ignored to death
How New Brunswick's child death review system works
Part 2: The Lost Children: 'A child that dies shouldn't be anonymous'
Haunted by Juli-Anna: An 'agonizingly painful' preventable death
Part 3: The Lost Children: Change on horizon for First Nations child welfare
Mona Sock, a life stolen by abuse
Part 4: The Lost Children: Government weighs privacy over transparency in child deaths
Baby Russell: A few minutes of life, then a knife in the heart
Do you have a tip about this story? Get in touch with CBC New Brunswick Investigates by clicking here.
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Family of child who died in Alberta kinship care says police haven’t spoken to them

Family of child who died in Alberta kinship care says police haven’t spoken to them | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it

The grandfather of a four-year-old girl who died under suspicious circumstances in government care in 2014 says police have yet to ask the family about it.


http://globalnews.ca/news/3459911/family-of-child-who-died-in-alberta-kinship-care-says-police-havent-spoken-to-them/


POLITICS
May 17, 2017 5:30 pm
Family of child who died in Alberta kinship care says police haven’t spoken to them

By Dean Bennett The Canadian Press

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Serenity died in kinship care in 2014 when she was four years old.
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The grandfather of a four-year-old girl who died under suspicious circumstances in government care in 2014 says police have yet to ask the family about it.

The man, who can’t be identified for privacy reasons, says more than two years after Serenity died, they have yet to hear from police.

“No one has reached out to any member of our family,” the man told reporters at the legislature Wednesday.

The grandfather cannot be identified under privacy rules.

Story continues below

RELATED

Alberta faces renewed questions on safety of kids in government care ‘Serenity’ case off limits to Alberta child welfare panel: opposition Rachel Notley defends Alberta human services minister in child-care death Wildrose calls for emergency debate on ‘secrecy’ surrounding death of child in care
A spokesman for the RCMP could not be immediately reached for comment.

The grandfather also called for Premier Rachel Notley to hold a public inquiry to get to the bottom of what happened to Serenity and to prevent similar deaths of children in care.

“This is unacceptable,” he said. “It’s bureaucratic stupidity at its best.”
Earlier Wednesday, the grandfather and other family members sat in the legislature gallery as opposition Progressive Conservative members demanded Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee call an inquiry.

READ MORE: Alberta cabinet minister cites limitations in child care death probe

PC member Mike Ellis asked the government why it has taken more than two years to investigate the case, with Serenity’s family being kept in the dark on its progress.

“Everyone is working very hard to ensure we do the best to obtain justice for this little girl,” Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley told the house.

“It is true that the process did not occur as quickly as it should have.
“We will ensure that in future we do a better job of moving forward in a more timely manner, but at this time we cannot prejudice any potential prosecution going forward until the investigation is complete.”

Ellis pressed on, demanding Notley explain to the family in the gallery why her government won’t call the inquiry.

“All Albertans are very, very troubled, and have been, about the horrible circumstances that Serenity suffered,” Notley replied.

“(But) it is absolutely important that the police be allowed to proceed so that the matter can be addressed fully in the justice system.”

Serenity’s case has become a symbol of problems with Alberta’s child-care system.

The girl died in kinship care in 2014 despite previous concerns from her birth mother that the girl was being abused. Kinship care is foster care with relatives.

READ MORE: Mother of young Alberta girl who died in care shares photos of her final days

Leaked reports to the media late last year revealed that before she died, Serenity was taken to hospital emaciated and hypothermic with signs of physical and sexual abuse. She died from massive brain trauma.

No one has been charged.

There have been delays and secrecy over her autopsy and in police and government investigations.

The case has led to political shakeup. Earlier this year, Notley carved out a separate ministry of Children’s Services and assigned Larivee to run it.

She also struck an-all party panel to examine ways to better protect children in care.

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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Alberta cabinet minister cites limitations in child care death probe

Alberta cabinet minister cites limitations in child care death probe | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
https://www.google.ca/amp/globalnews.ca/news/3442743/alberta-cabinet-minister-cites-limitations-in-child-care-death-probe/amp/

POLITICS
May 10, 2017 7:51 pm Updated: May 10, 2017 11:12 pm
Alberta cabinet minister cites limitations in child care death probe

By Dean Bennett The Canadian Press


WATCH ABOVE: The death of four-year-old Serenity captured the attention of Alberta last year when a report highlighted her brutal injuries and death while in kinship care. Now, reports have surfaced there are children still living in the home where Serenity suffered her abuse. As Kent Morrison reports, the NDP is on the defence.

Alberta’s children’s services minister, facing demands she break up a family under investigation in a child’s death, says the province does not have blanket power to take children away from their biological parents.

Danielle Larivee said judges, not politicians, make that call and they won’t do so without direct evidence of threat or harm to a child.

Story continues below

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‘Serenity’ case off limits to Alberta child welfare panel: opposition Alberta’s child advocate calls on province to do more to protect kids ‘I could have been Serenity’: former Alberta foster child haunted by past in care
And she said they won’t do so simply because a criminal investigation is underway.

“The law that we are all as Albertans bound by does not let government go in and apprehend children without evidence of abuse,” Larivee told the house Wednesday during question period.

Larivee has been under fire from political opponents after it was revealed this week that caregivers at the centre of the horrific death of a four-year-old girl in kinship care still have custody of their natural children.

READ MORE: Alberta faces renewed questions on safety of kids in government care

Opposition members say those kids need to be removed from the home for their safety and that Larivee should be fired for allowing them to be there.

But Larivee said the children are not being harmed and are being assessed by social workers, though she could not provide many few details because of privacy rules.

“I can specifically say that there has been face-to-face contact and interviewing of these individual children in situations in which I’m confident they were able to have an open conversation with assessors,” Larivee said later at a news conference.

She said assessors are also trained to look for abuse and neglect. She said the checks began in 2014 and the latest one was this week.

She wouldn’t say how many checks have been done or how often the children are seen, except to say the checks have been “intermittent.”

Larivee also said media reports saying there are six children in the house are incorrect. She wouldn’t give the actual number or give the ages of the children, again citing privacy rules.

Wildrose member Jason Nixon said the children need to be removed.

“Common sense dictates that no children — period — should be cared for by people who allow the child to be beaten, starved and sexually assaulted to the point of death under their watch,” Nixon told Larivee in the house Wednesday.

Ric McIver, the leader of the Progressive Conservatives in the legislature, said Larivee is asking the public to be reassured based on very little information.

“They’re not giving you a lot of words to rely on,” said McIver. “It feels like the minister is running and hiding from the facts because the facts are inconvenient.”

The case revolves around a young girl named Serenity. Her plight and the lack of action to determine what happened to her and who is responsible have become a symbol of problems in Alberta’s child-care department.

Serenity, born to First Nations parents, died in kinship care in 2014 despite previous concerns from her birth mother that the girl was being abused.

Leaked reports to the media late last year revealed that Serenity, just before she died, was taken to hospital emaciated, hypothermic with signs of physical and sexual abuse. She died from massive brain trauma.

In the two years following her death, there have been delays and secrecy over her autopsy as well as about police and government investigations.

READ MORE: Mother of 4-year-old Alberta girl who died in kinship care speaks out: ‘They completely ignored me’

No one has been charged.

© 2017 The Canadian Press
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Alberta faces renewed questions on safety of kids in government care

Alberta faces renewed questions on safety of kids in government care | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it

Opposition leaders say Alberta's children's services minister should resign over reports that biological children are still living in a home under investigation in the death of a child in kinship care.



http://globalnews.ca/news/3438809/alberta-faces-renewed-questions-on-safety-of-kids-in-government-care/


Alberta faces renewed questions on safety of kids in government care

By Dean Bennett The Canadian Press
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A four-year old girl named Serenity was living in the home as a ward of the government when she died in 2014.
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Opposition leaders say Alberta’s children’s services minister should resign over reports that biological children are still living in a home under investigation in the death of a child in kinship care.

Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee says no children under government care are in the home.

Ongoing monitoring of the biological children has shown they are safe and are not being mistreated, she says.

Story continues below

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‘Serenity’ case off limits to Alberta child welfare panel: opposition ‘I could have been Serenity’: former Alberta foster child haunted by past in care
“If there had been any identification of safety concerns, (the biological children) would have been removed,” Larivee said Tuesday.

READ MORE: Alberta’s child advocate calls on province to do more to protect kids

A suggestion that having children in a home where the adults are being investigated puts the kids at risk prompted Larivee to reply that a criminal investigation is still ongoing. For now, she said, she must rely on reports that the biological children are not in harm’s way.

The case involves a four-year-old girl named Serenity. Her death has elicited criticism and concern of the provincial child welfare under Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP and the Progressive Conservative government before that.

Serenity died in 2014 from maltreatment and severe brain damage. Since details of her case became public late last year, the minister in charge has been shuffled out of the portfolio, a new Children’s Services Ministry was created and Notley struck an all-party panel to come up with how to improve the system.

READ MORE: Mother of 4-year-old Alberta girl who died in kinship care speaks out: ‘They completely ignored me’

Ric McIver, who leads the Progressive Conservatives in the house, said no children should be in the home – biological or otherwise.

“What could possibly have been more important that you couldn’t be bothered to ensure (the safety of) kids in the same place where the brutal end to Serenity’s young life took place?” McIver asked Larivee during question period.
Opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean echoed McIver’s remarks.

“We need some answers … and we want to make sure that Alberta does whatever it possibly can to take these children that might be in harm’s way out of harm,” Jean said outside the legislature.

Both said the minister should resign.

READ MORE: Wildrose calls for emergency debate on ‘secrecy’ surrounding death of child in care

Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark told reporters: “There’s absolutely no way that there should be kids in that home.”

Serenity, born to First Nations parents, died in kinship care despite previous concerns from her birth mother that the child was being abused.

Leaked reports to the media revealed that Alberta’s child and youth advocate, who investigated the case, was not told that an emaciated and hypothermic Serenity was taken to hospital in September 2014 with dilated pupils and multiple bruises.

She had an extensive brain injury, was put on life support and died soon after.

In the two years following her death, there have been delays and secrecy over her autopsy as well as about police and government investigations.

No one has been charged.





© 2017 The Canadian Press 

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To Minister Larivee: Would you feel YOUR children were safe?

To Minister Larivee: Would you feel YOUR children were safe? | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
Kudos for the reporter's pointed question to the Minister:

Would you feel safe were it your own children in the home?

http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/940049987943/
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Child advocate’s report lays bare huge challenges ahead for Notley government 2015

Child advocate’s report lays bare huge challenges ahead for Notley government 2015 | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
2015 http://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/simons-child-advocates-report-lays-bare-huge-challenges-ahead-for-notley-government

Simons: Child advocate’s report lays bare huge challenges ahead for Notley government

Paula Simons, Edmonton JournalPAULA SIMONS, EDMONTON JOURNAL
More from Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal
Published on: May 28, 2015 | Last Updated: September 9, 2015 6:04 PM MDT
Alberta legislature
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EDMONTON – My colleague Karen Kleiss has written many disturbing stories about Alberta children who’ve died in foster care, or while receiving “protective” services from Alberta’s child welfare system. But the story she tells in Thursday’s Edmonton Journal, about an aboriginal girl from the Blood First Nation, who almost died of dental neglect, is one of the darkest and most troubling she’s ever reported.

I can’t tell you the little girl’s name. Her privacy is protected under the terms of Alberta’s Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. I’ll call her Bonita, because that’s the name she’s given by Alberta’s Child and Youth Advocate, Del Graff, in his report into her care which was released this week.


Bonita wasn’t abused in the conventional sense. There’s no suggestion in Graff’s report that she was beaten or sexually assaulted or purposely starved. She was simply severely neglected, almost to the point of death. Her mother was an addict, with severe cognitive and neuropsychological deficits. An independent assessment of her cognitive ability determined that she was incapable of caring for herself, let alone her children. Bonita’s father was chronically unemployed and seemingly under his wife’s domination. The father, mother, and three children lived in utter shantytown squalour in an aging rented trailer that had been repeatedly deemed unfit for human habitation.
Bonita’s parents provided no discipline. The children were not required to go to school nor made to wash. Social workers intervened repeatedly, yet the children were always returned to the family. Despite the fact that the family, as First Nations members, had access to free dental care, they did not take Bonita to the dentist when she started to complain of sore teeth.

As a result, she developed dental abscesses so severe, she nearly died of septic shock and congestive heart failure. She was hospitalized for two months, and will require extensive plastic surgery to rebuild her face.

First of all, let me say that we would know little or none of this without the investigative work of Graff’s office. Graff is an independent office of the legislature, the first child advocate in Alberta’s history who has had the power to investigate and report in this way. (Previous advocates reported to the minister — when they bothered to report at all. One of Graff’s predecessors simply stopped bothering to file his mandatory annual reports.) Graff’s appointment as an officer of the legislature was one of Alison Redford’s actual legacies to this province.


But remember that one of Jim Prentice’s most disturbing acts as premier was to cut funding to Graff’s office in the middle of a budget cycle. Graff’s Bonita report vividly proves the value of his office in bringing these horror stories to the light of day.
But of course, the report is of little value if all it makes us do is cluck our tongues in disapproval.

How does Rachel Notley’s new government actually do anything to prevent the next horror?


Some of the factors that led to Bonita’s catastrophic medical condition are difficult for any provincial government to tackle. Bonita and her parents lived on reserve. The quality of the housing stock on that reserve is the responsibility of the federal government and of the First Nation itself. No provincial minister has the power to provide families on reserve with housing that’s actually fit for human habitation. And yet, it’s the province that has to deal with the consequences when people end up in hospital because of a house fire or because they develop a medical condition like asthma or pneumonia from living in substandard housing.

The Blood First Nation also has delegated authority to run its own child welfare system. For the most part, that means that provincial social workers aren’t involved on the reserve. The band provides its own child welfare agency. But reserves, which rely on federal funding, are often under-resourced and underfunded compared to child welfare agencies off reserve.

Then there are cultural issues. All social workers, whether they work for a First Nation, for the province, or for another contract agency, are wary of removing aboriginal children from their homes. We are all haunted by the spectre of the residential school system and the Sixties Scoop, which wrenched indigenous children from their families and their cultures. The emphasis now is almost always on keeping children with their families, no matter what, and providing supports to help the families cope. In many situations, that is indeed the right course of action — to help parents develop the capacity to care for their children successfully.

But in others, it is a ghastly mistake. A slavish ideological commitment to family reunification, in the name of cultural sensitivity, repeatedly puts children back into unsafe homes. It’s reverse racism. If those same children were white, they’d be apprehended, without question. But because they’re indigenous, they cannot escape neglegent or abusive homes. They get put back in dangerous situations, again and again, because it’s politically incorrect to remove them.

That being said, let us not pretend that apprehending a child is a magic solution, either. We don’t have enough foster parents in this province. We especially don’t have enough outstanding foster parents who are trained and prepared to deal with high-needs children. Too often, we remove a child from one unsafe environment, only to put them into a different kind of jeopardy. Taking Bonita into care earlier might have spared her this dental emergency. But we shouldn’t imagine that it would have given her an automatic Cinderella happy ending.

I don’t envy Notley’s new Human Services minister Irfan Sabir his task. Coping with Alberta’s child welfare crisis, especially its aboriginal child welfare crisis, is going to be a monstrously difficult job. On Wednesday, Sabir declined to speak to Karen Kleiss about this case. The minister’s staff provided a bland written statement. Of course, the cabinet was a tad busy, having its first meeting in Calgary. It may not be realistic to expect Sabir, who has no experience in elected office, to jump right into commenting on such a horrible and high profile case.

Notley herself knows this file well, and her caucus is chock-full of social workers who’ve been on the front lines and witnessed horror stories of their own. A wholesale restructuring of our fragmented and secretive child welfare system is long overdue.

It won’t be easy, God knows. But Alberta’s most vulnerable children need and deserve so much better.
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It was illegal to print their names: Alberta's lost children 

It was illegal to print their names: Alberta's lost children  | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
http://www.canadalandshow.com/podcast/illegal-print-names-albertas-lost-children/

It Was Illegal To Print Their Names: Alberta’s Lost Children
RUSSELL GRAGG MAY 8, 2017 CHILD WELFAREEDMONTON JOURNALIRFAN SABIRPAULA SIMONSRACHEL NOTLEY
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Since the late 1990s nearly 800 children in Alberta government care have died. Veteran Edmonton Journal columnist Paula Simons has been shining a light on this crisis since the start.

In November 2016, Simons published a story that shocked the province. It was about a four-year-old girl named Serenity. Let down by a wide range of government and non-governmental services, Serenity was the victim of horrific abuse and neglect.

Simons’ article, Her name was Serenity. Never forget it. spurred the Notley provincial government to convene an all-party committee to investigate the multiple failings of Alberta’s child welfare system.

Her tireless coverage earned Simons honourable mentions from the National Newspaper Awards and the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom.

She joins guest host Omar Mouallem for the episode.


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Alberta Government Appoints First Nation Leader to Panel

Alberta Government Appoints First Nation Leader to Panel | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
Freda Alook is correct.

https://www.google.ca/amp/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.4105488

Alberta government appoints First Nation leader to child intervention panel
‘It took us a while to make sure we found the right voice’

Gareth Hampshire · CBC News
5 Hours Ago
Danielle Larivee
Children's Services Minister Danielle Larivee said Tyler White has connections in First Nations across Alberta and will make sure their perspectives are considered by the ministerial panel. (CBC News)
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The Alberta government has appointed a First Nation leader to its child intervention panel after facing criticism for failing to do so when the panel was first struck.

"It was identified quite early that we needed to have a First Nations voice," conceded Children's Services Minister Danielle Larivee Monday, who described the new panel member, Tyler White, as a leader with knowledge and experience.

White is a member of the Siksika First Nation, whose reserve is just northeast of Calgary. He is the CEO for Siksika Health Services and participated in Alberta's mental health review.

He was unavailable Monday for an interview and did not attend the ministerial panel meeting going on in Edmonton throughout the day. A provincial government spokesperson said White was tied up in personal matters.

The all-party panel, launched in February, is examining ways to improve Alberta's child intervention system

The panel was struck in the wake of revelations about delays in the investigation of the death of Serenity, a four-year-old Indigenous girl who died in 2014 while in kinship care.

More than half of the 73 young people who died in government care between April 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2016 were Indigenous. But only one member of the panel was Indigenous, a Métis member.

Opposition describes appointment as overdue

"I'm going to choose the positive side of this and say it's a good thing we've added an aboriginal voice onto the panel," said Rick McIvor, the Alberta PC leader in the legislature who has been pressing for the move from the beginning of the panel's formation..

The critic for the Wildrose official Opposition, David Hanson, agreed the appointment was overdue. But it should have been made at the beginning of the panel's formation, instead of creating a misrepresentation issue at the outset, he said.

Larivee said that while White can't speak for every Indigenous person, she believes his voice will bring opinions and context the panel needs to hear.

"He won't hesitate at all to make sure that the First Nations perspective is considered every step along the way," Larivee said.

But the move was described as not going far enough by some First Nation leaders who met with the panel Monday.

Freda Alook, a councillor with the Bigstone Cree Nation in northern Alberta, said every First Nation region in Alberta should be represented instead of just one member from southern Alberta.

Freda Alook
Freda Alook said appointing White is a good start but she believes the panel needs First Nations representation from all parts of the province. (CBC News)
"Down south is way different from up north, it's so different," Alook said. "The isolation is so different and if somebody was to come to our communities up north it's way different and you'll understand."

But Larivee said with 48 First Nations in Alberta, it would be impossible to include panel representation from each one. It was a balance finding the right panel members to drive an effective review of the system, she said.

"It took us a while to make sure we found the right voice to be on the panel," she said.

Alberta's Minister of Indigenous Relations Richard Feehan said there will be lots of chances for people from other communities to share their opinions.

"First Nations people have lots of opportunity to come to the commission and talk about their points of view," he said.

Panel may hold one hearing at First Nation community

Albertans are being encouraged to make written and online submissions to the panel. But a spokesperson for Children's Services said taking the panel to an actual First Nation community to hold a hearing has not been ruled out.

On its child intervention web site, the government describes White as being highly respected for building relationships and praises him for his experience in dealing with governments.

Besides being CEO of the Siksika health services, he is also president of a First Nations health consortium, plus a past winner of the First Nations health manager award of excellence.

Larivee said White's appointment will help the panel find concrete ways to make life better for the 10,000 children receiving intervention services in Alberta.
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Justice for Serenity 

Justice for Serenity  | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
As you all know, my granddaughter, Serenity, is the face of a 4 year old who suffered the utmost unimaginable experience of life. Fighting for her safety and requests made to child and family services were ignored leading up to her final destination. These images you see plastered in the media were taken 4 days before her last breath was taken.
The people responsible for the death of Serenity still has not been put to justice because of the current laws in the government has in place that people who are in kinship are not being held responsible for the death of Serenity.
I had someone from the government promise me changes in the policies, shortly afterwards, he was released from his position. I wonder why? What if this happened to one of their own family member, guaranteed, they would be working hard to ensure answers. Nobody is doing anything. Calgary homicide investigations are putting this down as a cold case until solid information comes forth. As far as I am concerned, all individuals who lived in that house should be held responsible for the results of this beautiful angel who is now in heaven.
Because this is such a sensitive case, we are not posting the links of her on here as it is a trigger for those who had to see her this way. 4 days, a grandmother who tried to help her grand baby, was shunned and was never allowed to see Serenity due to inner family fighting. Family of Serenity had fought and tried to get her help, but was told Serenity was fine. Shortly after, Family was called to the hospital.
Wanting to be the voice for children in care and Serenity, it is a mission I decided to take on and to ensure her face and name will never be forgotten. My Grand daughter Serenity Deserves Justice - Please help me get this message to the people and sign this petition that the people who kept her are help responsible for her death. #justiceforserenity
This petition will be delivered to:
Jody Wilson-Raybould

https://www.change.org/p/jody-wilson-raybould-justice-for-serenity-the-voices-of-change
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Children who die in care should be named 

Children who die in care should be named  | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
Children who die in care should be named, insists advocate
http://www.windspeaker.com/news/windspeaker-news/children-who-die-in-care-should-be-named-insists-advocate/

Children who die in care should be named, insists advocate

News Home
More from Windspeaker News
Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 6:35pm

Donald Langford, executive director with Metis Child and Family Services
In the 20 years Donald Langford has been in his job, he says approximately 800 children have died in care.

By Shari Narine
Windspeaker Contributor
EDMONTON



When the names of children who die in care are not publicly released “You steal their spirit. You steal their soul,” said Donald Langford, executive director with Metis Child and Family Services.

The ministerial panel on child welfare has put off a decision on the issue of releasing the identities of children who die in care.

In 2014, former Conservative Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar tasked a panel on child welfare to bring forward recommendations on reforming and streamlining the child death review system. That panel made the recommendation to release names.

Bhullar got it right to name the child, says Langford, but the ministry put in other conditions.

“I was at a meeting (Bhullar) had at the legislature where he was going to reveal the identity of children and very shortly thereafter the assistant deputy minister put in conditions that the director could refuse to release the names.” It was also reasoned that if the child had siblings in care, they didn’t have to release a name.

“Which I thought was wrong. It was just another cop out,” Langford said.

In the 20 years Langford has been in his job, he says approximately 800 children have died in care.

Whether the child welfare panel members will include the question about publicly identifying children who have died in care as part of their scheduled consultations in the second phase of their work or as a special query is yet unclear.

The panel will have the Child Services ministry back in two weeks with a plan for consultation the panel could undertake, along with a report and any notes regarding Bhullar’s 2014 panel.

Some of the confusion around how to proceed, said panel chair Peace River MLA Debbie Jabbour, is that the topic was not included as part of the panel’s mandate, but instead came up as part of discussion with community members.
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AKA returning to the land of secrecy and lies Alberta

AKA returning to the land of secrecy and lies Alberta | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/LegallyKidnapped/~3/d212E9Pw_so/alberta-child-intervention-panel-wants.html‬
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Baby Russell, a few minutes of life

Baby Russell, a few minutes of life | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/new-brunswick/lost-children-baby-russell-profile-1.4019535

Baby Russell: A few minutes of life, then a knife in the heart
Warning: This story contains graphic details about the death of Baby Russell
START OF AUTHOR
CBC Investigates
Karissa Donkin · CBC News
March 16, 2017
END OF AUTHOR

Baby Russell died after being stabbed in the heart by his father in 2009. He would be eight years old now. (CBC)
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Months before the baby came into the world, his parents decided he wouldn't live.
Sarah Marie Russell and her common-law husband, Rodney Miller, who lived in Moores Mills, N.B., denied the pregnancy when questioned by suspicious social workers.
One son had already been taken away after nearly dying from suspected shaken baby syndrome, but no one was ever convicted for the damage that was inflicted.
The couple never visited a doctor before Sarah Marie gave birth again. Their internet history showed they researched home deliveries.
* A perilous balance: Government gives weight to privacy in response to child deaths.
For want of a proper given name, the child became known after his death as Baby Russell. Miller, throughout his interview with police, called him "the damn thing."  
Read more from this series
Part 1: 'It's really a scandal': Reasons for 53 deaths of at-risk children hidden by secretive committee
Profile: Jackie Brewer, the 2-year-old who was ignored to death
Part 2: A child that dies shouldn't be anonymous,' ex-youth advocate argues
Profile: Juli-Anna's story: An 'agonizingly painful' preventable death
Part 3: 'The system failed her'
Profile: Mona's story: A life stolen by abuse
Part 4: A perilous balance: Government gives weight to privacy in response to child deaths
Profile: Baby Russell's story: A few minutes lif life, then a knife in the heart


Baby Russell was born on Jan. 17, 2009, inside a small cabin where his parents lived.
It appears, a judge said later, that his mother, never held him. She and Miller hoped he would die naturally or be stillborn.
When Miller saw his son's tiny fingers move, he selected a knife from the kitchen drawer.
Russell was in the bathroom, when Miller placed his hand over his son's chest and felt his heartbeat.
Then he did the unthinkable.
He plunged a knife into the newborn's heart and felt him go limp. Baby Russell had lived for only a few minutes.
The body was wrapped in a teddy bear blanket and placed in a garbage bag. Miller cleaned up the house, carefully washing the knife.
He hid his son's body under a nearby building. Then he went back inside, drank a few beers, smoked a joint and thought about what to do next.

Watch


The next day, Russell followed Miller outside, walking past the railway tracks and into the woods, carrying their son's body.
He doused Baby Russell with gasoline and lit him on fire. Later, he spread snow over the remains.
A snowstorm was coming, and Miller hoped the body would stay undetected for months.
A gruesome discovery

This is the spot where investigators found Baby Russell's body in Moores Mills, near St. Stephen. The police tape is still there, eight years later. (CBC)
Social workers noticed Russell's baby bump the summer of 2008. Because of the family's history with social services, a child would likely be seized at birth.
Social workers' hands were tied, however.
Even as Russell's pregnancy became more apparent, the couple denied it.
At Miller's trial, one social worker said she and her colleagues in child protection did not have the legal power to force Russell to take a pregnancy test.
They asked hospitals in New Brunswick and Maine to be on the lookout for her.
But the mother never went to a doctor.

Rodney Miller was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of his son.
Russell missed some appointments with social workers before giving birth. When she resurfaced, a social worker noticed she was no longer pregnant.
A few days later, police dogs scoured the woods behind the couple's home and found the body.
His parents were arrested on suspicion of concealing the baby's death. Their first court appearance drew a crowd at the St. Stephen courthouse.
"Murderers! Baby killers!" a man yelled as Russell and Miller were led into court in custody.
"We lost our baby in January, right after Christmas," the man told a CBC reporter through tears.
"And you got people like this having children."
'Heart wrenching' details

Sarah Marie Russell pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death.
After his arrest, police interrogated Miller for four hours. He told them the haunting details of his son's birth and death.
He eventually changed his plea to guilty of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison, without parole eligibility for 25 years.
Russell pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death.
In sentencing her to 30 months in prison, Judge David Walker said Russell was likely manipulated by her boyfriend.
While the mother didn't deliver the fatal blow, she never tried to get help, even following Miller into the woods when he lit their son's body on fire.
That she did nothing to protect or nurture her baby, the judge said, is "heart wrenching."
"What happened to the baby is beyond comprehension and was compounded by the hiding and burning of his body," Walker wrote.
"Ms. Russell was aware of all of that and did nothing, absolutely nothing."
'You'll just never forget'

Defence lawyer Joel Hansen still doesn't understand why Rodney Miller plunged a knife into his infant son's heart. (CBC)
When defence lawyer Joel Hansen looked at police photographs, he was shocked to see an infant with blue eyes staring back at him. The deep snow had preserved Baby Russell's body.
"He just looked like an innocent, beautiful baby doll, you know? Just perfect," Hansen said in a recent interview.
The veteran St. Stephen lawyer was hired to defend Miller at his first-degree murder trial. No one in the community could understand why Hansen agreed.
There was a lot Hansen didn't understand either.
He thinks of his own children and how he felt when they were born. For some reason, Russell and Miller didn't feel that same attachment when their baby came into the world.
The parents were determined not to let the boy live.
But why?
Eight years later, Hansen still doesn't have the answers he wanted. In all their conversations, he could never get an explanation or motive from Miller.

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Hansen tries not to think about the case, but it seeps into his mind.
"No matter how much you try, certain things will trigger it," he said.
"You'll just never forget. You almost feel obliged, for the baby, not to forget."
Baby Russell doesn't have a memorial. There is no grave, no place to leave flowers, no one to celebrate the anniversary of his birth or death. The home has been torn to the ground, reduced to rubble.
Back in the woods, behind the train tracks, a single piece of yellow tape remains tied to a tree, a reminder of how he lived and died.
Baby Russell would be eight years old now.

Part 1: The Lost Children: The secret life of death by neglect
Jackie Brewer, the 2-year-old who was ignored to death
How New Brunswick's child death review system works
Part 2: The Lost Children: 'A child that dies shouldn't be anonymous'
Haunted by Juli-Anna: An 'agonizingly painful' preventable death
Part 3: The Lost Children: Change on horizon for First Nations child welfare
Mona Sock, a life stolen by abuse
Part 4: The Lost Children: Government weighs privacy over transparency in child deaths
Baby Russell: A few minutes of life, then a knife in the heart
Do you have a tip about this story? Get in touch with CBC New Brunswick Investigates by clicking here.
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A Child That Dies Should Not Be Anonymous 

A Child That Dies Should Not Be Anonymous  | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/new-brunswick/lost-children-former-watchdog-1.4018784

'A child that dies shouldn't be anonymous,' ex-youth advocate argues
Former child advocate Bernard Richard calls for transparency in how deaths of children are investigated
CBC Investigates
Karissa Donkin • Shane Fowler • CBC News
March 14, 2017

Juli-Anna St. Peter's sister drew this photo to show her sadness at losing Juli-Anna. (CBC)
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Bernard Richard warned New Brunswick that the detection of child neglect required a sense of urgency.
Ten years ago, after the death of 27-month-old Juli-Anna St. Peter, the former child and youth watchdog made recommendations to the province for how to keep vulnerable children safer.
* Haunted by Juli-Anna: An 'agonizingly painful' preventable death
Today, Richard worries his report has gone untouched.
The public needs to know "a lot more than it knows now" about the deaths of vulnerable children, Richard said in an interview from British Columbia, where he is the children and youth representative.
"I'm still stunned that these investigations go on behind closed doors," he said.

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In New Brunswick, child deaths are investigated by a committee set up 20 years ago after a Saint John girl, Jackie Brewer, died of neglect.
A CBC News investigation has found that at least 53 vulnerable children known to child protection services have died from unnatural causes in the past two decades.
Little is known about those children or if anything could have been done to save them.
The committee makes its vague recommendations public, but they're delivered unattached to a human story. The public learns almost nothing about their lives or their deaths.
The Department of Justice and Public Safety says the committee's reports are protected by privacy legislation and must remain confidential because they're considered "advice to minister."
But for Richard, it's a matter of dignity.
"A child that dies doesn't need to be anonymous, shouldn't be anonymous," he said.
"Their life has some value. We should talk about their life, but also the circumstances of their death, and make improvements."
Not enough to save Juli-Anna

Juli-Anna St. Peter was 27 months old when she died in 2004. She would be 15 years old now. (CBC)
When 28-month-old Jackie Brewer died in 1996, the government promised to do better job of training social workers to detect chronic neglect.
Read more from this series
Part 1: 'It's really a scandal': Reasons for 53 deaths of at-risk children hidden by secretive committee
Profile: Jackie Brewer, the 2-year-old who was ignored to death
Part 2: A child that dies shouldn't be anonymous,' ex-youth advocate argues
Profile: Juli-Anna's story: An 'agonizingly painful' preventable death
Part 3: 'The system failed her'
Profile: Mona's story: A life stolen by abuse
Part 4: Solutions
Profile: Baby Russell's story: A few minutes lif life, then a knife in the heart

But the promise wasn't enough to save Juli-Anna St. Peter.
On April 13, 2004, Juli-Anna died in a Woodstock hospital after a pen-like object perforated her bowel.
Her mother, Anna Mooers, was sentenced to 27 months in prison for criminal negligence causing death.
Richard, who was New Brunswick's child and youth advocate at the time, determined that officials never launched an official investigation into the family, despite allegations of abuse and neglect.
The family had been the subject of at least 16 child protection referrals.
The sources of the complaints were reliable, including an emergency room doctor, the town's mayor and Juli-Anna's grandmother. But the children remained in the home.
In his report at the time, "Broken Promises: Juli-Anna's story," Richard noted the similarities between Jackie and Juli-Anna, describing the situations as "virtually identical."
Many of the problems highlighted in Jackie's case, he noted, were still an issue eight years later when Juli-Anna died.

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That includes social worker burnout, taking parents' explanations at face value and not taking cases of child neglect seriously enough.
"It appears a lack of clear understanding and direction regarding cases of child neglect persists," the report says.
He concluded Juli-Anna's death could have, and should have, been prevented.
Today, Richard remains motivated by the haunting look on Juli-Anna's face. Her portrait sits in his office at home.
"Providing more information, shedding more light, being more transparent when these kinds of tragedies arise allows all of us to be better citizens and to look out for the interests of kids," he said in an interview.
'It's going to probably happen again'

All that remains of Juli-Anna St. Peter are these photos on the table of her grandmother's home in Edmonton. (CBC)
Not everyone agrees more information is better.
Publicizing details about child deaths could add context, but could also retraumatize families, according to Miguel LeBlanc, executive director of the New Brunswick Association of Social Workers.
"Let's not forget the family," he said.
But Juli-Anna's grandmother, Donna Hitchcock, suspects that the secrecy around child death reviews has led to the forgetting of the victims themselves.
In an interview from her home in Alberta, she said she hoped government officials and child protection workers "will open up their eyes."

Donna Hitchcock hopes the death of granddaughter, Juli-Anna St. Peter, can help other children. (CBC)
Juli-Anna's death prompted calls for better training and more resources for social workers in rural New Brunswick.
Since then, LeBlanc said, the province has brought in experts in neglect and has adopted a new model to assess child protection referrals.
LeBlanc believes the system has improved since Jackie and Juli-Anna died, but said more could be done.
"The goal is always to prevent another Juli-Anna," he said.
"But will it happen in the future? Unfortunately, it's going to probably happen again."

Part 1: The Lost Children: The secret life of death by neglect
Jackie Brewer, the 2-year-old who was ignored to death
How New Brunswick's child death review system works
Part 2: The Lost Children: 'A child that dies shouldn't be anonymous'
Haunted by Juli-Anna: An 'agonizingly painful' preventable death
Part 3: The Lost Children: Change on horizon for First Nations child welfare
Mona Sock, a life stolen by abuse
Part 4: The Lost Children: Government weighs privacy over transparency in child deaths
Baby Russell: A few minutes of life, then a knife in the heart
Do you have a tip about this story? Get in touch with CBC New Brunswick Investigates by clicking here.A 
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Jackie Brewer, the 2-year-old who was ignored to death

Jackie Brewer, the 2-year-old who was ignored to death | Family-Centred Care Practice | Scoop.it
http://www.cbc.ca/1.4018730

Jackie Brewer, the 2-year-old who was ignored to death
After Jackie Brewer was found dead in her Saint John crib, the government promised change
START OF AUTHOR
CBC Investigates
Karissa Donkin · CBC News
March 13, 2017
END OF AUTHOR

Jackie Brewer died from neglect and dehydration in 1996. She would be 22 now. (CBC)
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Sherry Bordage knocked on the door of her estranged brother's home and waited.
For months, she'd heard rumours. That her younger brother was a drug addict. That he and his common-law wife weren't feeding their three young children.
In the summer of 1996, Bordage, then living in Ontario, returned to her hometown on vacation to find out for herself.
She drove to the bottom of Canterbury Street in Saint John's south end and found the shabby, brick apartment building where her brother, Marc Janes, and his partner, Helen Brewer, lived.
Bordage's husband and two young children followed her inside.  

* The Lost Children: The secret life of death by neglect
Immediately, Bordage was hit with the smell of urine and garbage. The lights were off in the apartment. It was suppertime, but no one was preparing food.  
In the living room, Bordage saw two children, both pale and thin.
Ten-month-old Ryan sat in a bassinet in the corner. Sonya, 4, was curious about the new guests and invited her older cousin to play in her bedroom. The girl slept on a mattress on the floor, covered by a thin sheet.
When Bordage asked to see Jackie, the middle child, Janes went to the back of the apartment and returned with a girl who was dirty, dishevelled and wearing only a diaper.

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Later, Bordage would find out her niece was kept in her crib all day and night. No one to talk to her. No one to hold her. No one to love her.
Jackie was 28 months old but hadn't learned to walk or talk.
She screamed and struggled against her father, and he took her back to her crib before Bordage could hold her.
"I couldn't handle it anymore," she recalled in a recent interview from her home in Arizona.
"I packed up and got out of there as quickly as I could."
Bordage called social services.
The next day she followed up in person. She told social workers she was worried for the children's safety. She feared for Jackie's life.
"My main concern was to get all of the children out of the home immediately, before something terrible happened."
Bordage had a good job, a big house and a family of her own. She offered to take custody of her nieces and nephew.
Social workers promised to look into her concerns, but the children remained in the home. Bordage went back to Ontario.
Died in plain sight

Sherry Bordage visited her brother, Marc Janes, and his family at this three-story brick apartment building in Saint John in the summer of 1996. What she saw horrified her. (CBC)
A few months later, at about noon on Dec. 17, 1996, Jackie died.
It took more than nine hours before anyone noticed, long enough for the family's pet chinchilla to start chewing on her body.
The cause of death was dehydration. Jackie hadn't had anything to drink for about six days, doctors said.
How, people in Saint John asked, could a child die in plain sight, in the middle of a city, under the supervision of social workers?
Bordage wouldn't learn of her niece's death until a sister spotted a newspaper story. It didn't have any names, but the ages of the children matched up.
Police confirmed Bordage's fears. When she tried to figure out why her concerns had gone unaddressed, she was stonewalled.

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Jacqueline Dawn Brewer 1994 - 1996
CBC News New Brunswick









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Jacqueline Dawn Brewer 1994 - 1996 1:26
Later, she found out social services received 16 complaints about her brother's family over three years. The children were even taken away once, only to be sent back.
Bordage hired a lawyer and began a lengthy court battle to get custody of Jackie's brother and sister.
Her mind flipped between horror at what her niece suffered and a profound sadness and loss.
"That's the one thing I kept thinking throughout the whole course of this," she said.
"At any point, they could have stepped in and saved these children, that Jackie's life could have been saved."
Ignored to death

A crowd gathered outside the old Saint John courthouse in 1997 to see Marc Janes and Helen Brewer, on trial for manslaughter in the death of their daughter, Jackie. (CBC)
Marc Janes and Helen Brewer were convicted of manslaughter and were each sentenced to three years and nine months in prison.
Justice Hugh McLellan delivered the sentence on Dec. 17, 1997, exactly one year after Jackie died.
In an unusual move, he ordered a public memorial to Jackie and suggested an inscription:
"Aged 28 months, died in Saint John on December 17, 1996, neglected, dehydrated and forgotten in her crib at home, where she lived in loneliness, squalor and misery with her parents, under the supervision of social workers, health care experts and child protection officials. Her death diminishes all of us. We will remember Jacqueline."
Janes and Brewer weren't guilty of losing their tempers, the judge wrote, or of shaking Jackie until she stopped crying.
"They did not murder Jacqueline. They ignored her to death."
Outside the courthouse that day, an angry crowd gathered.
"Child murderer!" a woman yelled at Brewer. "I hope you rot in hell!"
The anger spread to the legislature in Fredericton, where politicians vowed to make changes to prevent another tragedy.
They promised more emphasis on getting children out of unsafe homes. They promised more social workers, more training in detecting neglect.
They also created a child death review committee, whose job would be to analyze the deaths of children who had been in care or who had received social services.
For a while, the spotlight was on Jackie.
And then it faded.
Memorial never built

This Saint John playground was built in memory of Jackie Brewer and John Ryan Turner, two children who died from neglect and abuse. There is no memorial in Rainbow Park for them. (CBC)
A short walk from the brick building where Jackie died there is a playground called Rainbow Park.
It was built in memory of Jackie and John Ryan Turner, a three-year-old who was beaten and starved to death by his parents in 1994.
The plaque that once commemorated the two children is gone. No one ever built the memorial the judge suggested.
Brewer and Janes completed their sentences long ago. Tracked down at the Fredericton courthouse earlier this year, Janes refused to talk about Jackie.
When Bordage thinks about her brother's crime, she thinks back to their own childhood.
Both siblings were abused and shuttled between homes. Bordage ran away at 14. Her brother stayed behind. She broke the cycle. He didn't.

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'She was crying and screaming and pushing against him'









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Bordage would win custody of her niece Sonya and nephew Ryan, after racking up a $12,000 legal bill. The provincial government quietly paid the tab.
On their first Christmas with Bordage and her family, the two children woke up to a giant Little Tikes slide in the living room and presents from Santa. They got to experience Christmas and birthdays.
After a while, they were privately adopted into a new family together. Their aunt wanted to protect them from their own family.
"I wanted the adoption to be closed so that no one in the family would have access to the children ever," Bordage said.
As they became adults, Bordage mailed them court clippings and transcripts from their parents' trial, so they would know the truth.
"Because [Jackie] died, Sonya and Ryan were removed from that home," Bordage said.
"Because she died, they were adopted and have had happy lives."
They, too, have broken the cycle.
Lost children
Bordage spends winters in Arizona, 5,000 kilometres from where Jackie died.
But her niece is always on her mind. She thinks of her every time she sees a girl with black curly hair, just like her brother Marc's.  
Bordage has abandoned the anger she felt about her niece's death and instead focuses on change: more transparency, less secrecy.
She wants the provincial government to reveal more details about the deaths of vulnerable children and what could have been done to prevent them.
"Let's make sure that no more children get lost. Let's prevent more deaths because as sad as it is, we can't undo what's been done."
Jackie would be 22 now.

Part 1: The Lost Children: The secret life of death by neglect
Jackie Brewer, the 2-year-old who was ignored to death
How New Brunswick's child death review system works
Part 2: The Lost Children: 'A child that dies shouldn't be anonymous'
Haunted by Juli-Anna: An 'agonizingly painful' preventable death
Part 3: The Lost Children: Change on horizon for First Nations child welfare
Mona Sock, a life stolen by abuse
Part 4: The Lost Children: Government weighs privacy over transparency in child deaths
Baby Russell: A few minutes of life, then a knife in the heart
Do you have a tip about this story? Get in touch with CBC New Brunswick Investigates by clicking here.

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