Foster home where First Nations girl filmed her suicide owned by child welfare agency - APTN NewsAPTN News

Foster home where First Nations girl filmed her suicide owned by child welfare agency

(Kanina Sue Turtle, middle, with father Clarence Suggashie and mother Barbara Suggashie visiting Poplar Hill First Nation for a funeral Oct. 18, 2016. She died by suicide Oct. 29, 2016. Photo provided by family.)

Kenneth Jackson
APTN News
The foster home where Kanina Sue Turtle filmed her suicide is owned and operated by the child welfare agency that removed her from her home in Poplar Hill First Nation, APTN News has found.

The Sioux Lookout home is known as an “agency operated home” (AOH) and is owned by Tikinagan Child and Family Services according to land registry records obtained by APTN.

Records show Tikinagan has owned the home since 2005 when it was transferred from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services for $132,000.

Turtle filmed her suicide in a backroom of the home Oct. 29, 2016 but APTN first reported Feb. 28 that the family is struggling for answers to this day as how she was able to do so.

Turtle had been to hospital at least twice in the nine days before her death for self-harming according to posts on her Facebook page and mother. She also filmed trying to kill herself the day before which APTN has seen.

The Oct. 29 video, which has also been seen by APTN, shows Turtle propping up her iPod and hanging herself. It’s about 45 minutes before a Tikinagan worker abruptly comes through the door to check on her. It’s far too late by then and a baby can be heard crying in another room.

Turtle’s mom said she has no idea how well her daughter was being supervised because Tikinagan never told her.

“Tik never told me anything at all,” said Barbara Suggashie, adding they only told her she died by suicide.

For months she didn’t believe it until she saw the video herself.

Suggashie said she didn’t find out about the video until months later when she said police returned Turtle’s belongings, including the iPod, last summer. Turtle’s father told APTN police said they were unable to access the device but advised the family of the video’s existence. The family later determined the device’s passcode and saw the video.

The unidentified Tikingan worker realized the iPod was recording at about the 50-minute mark of the video as she was on the phone with 911.

APTN reported Monday Tikinagan has been trying to get the video from the mother, according to the family’s lawyer.

Tikinagan will not answer whether they had additional staff on to watch Turtle.

Watch below as NDP demands answers for Kanina’s family Tuesday:

Question Period

The Ontario NDP put more questions to the Kathleen Wynne government Tuesday seeking answers for the family of Kanina Sue Turtle following a series of APTN stories that detail how the 15-year-old filmed her own suicide in a Sioux Lookout foster home Oct. 29, 2016. The exchange got a bit heated.

Posted by APTN National News on Tuesday, March 6, 2018

 

In an interview last summer Thelma Morris, executive director of Tikinagan, told APTN the agency automatically approves what’s known as one-to-one care, meaning a worker monitors the child around the clock, in homes operated by other companies.

“If there is a need to have a one-to-one we approve automatically,” Morris said last May. “That is written into our agreements.”

It’s not clear what their policy is for one of their own homes, which is different from regular foster homes where a family takes in a child.

Tikinagan’s website describes how the majority of the agency’s AOH’s are in Sioux Lookout and has employees who act as “live-in parents.”

When APTN called the home a lady immediately gave the number of Tikinagan’s office in Thunder Bay and hung up. That number has since been disconnected.

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has refused to talk about anything specific to Turtle’s death saying it is bound by privacy.

APTN also asked for more details on AOH’s and waited several days for a response.

A spokesperson for Children and Youth Services Minister Michael Coteau responded late Sunday.

“An agency operated home is not a designation under our legislation, though some in the community might have considered it as such due to its relationship with a licensed foster agency,” said spokesperson Alicia Ali.

APTN quickly asked for clarification and sent a screenshot of Tikinagan’s website that details how the agency not only operates homes but is hiring. Tikinagan gets its authority from the ministry.

Ali responded Monday that she didn’t know and would need to refer APTN back to the ministry.

“Agency operated homes is not an official term under the current legislation. Some children’s aid societies use the term informally to describe their residential placements. The ministry licenses service providers, such as children’s aid societies, to deliver residential services. Licensed service providers are responsible for operating in compliance with the requirements of the Child and Family Services Act,” said Trell Huether, a spokesperson for the ministry said Tuesday.

Turtle posted a Facebook live video from a hospital room beside who appears to be a Tikinagan worker before her death.

The unidentified woman talks on a mobile phone explaining to someone she is at the hospital with Turtle and how her shift is ending soon.

Turtle begins the video by showing her injuries and says very little, other than she is bored.

The worker agrees it is boring and notices there is no television to watch.

“So quit cutting yourself so you don’t have to come here,” the woman says on Oct. 25, 2016.

Turtle died by suicide four days later.

kjackson@aptn.ca

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6 Responses to “Foster home where First Nations girl filmed her suicide owned by child welfare agency”

  1. joans@mun.ca'
    Joan Scott March 15, 2018 at 12:01 am #

    First Nations young people are victims of apartheid in the education, health and justice systems. That’s the way it looks to me. Reconciliation has just begun and sadly resistance seems to be growing with it.
    I live in NL and some resistance has become clear as the federal govt attempts to redistribute the surf clam resource. There is much more I need to know. Fairness sounds simple but Canada will never get there unless we ALL get much more courageous. A Fair Country is a modest goal. I hope to see real progress towards it.

  2. j****@mun.ca'
    Joan Scott February 20, 2019 at 2:16 am #

    First Nations young people are victims of apartheid in the education, health and justice systems. That’s the way it looks to me. Reconciliation has just begun and sadly resistance seems to be growing with it.
    I live in NL and some resistance has become clear as the federal govt attempts to redistribute the surf clam resource. There is much more I need to know. Fairness sounds simple but Canada will never get there unless we ALL get much more courageous. A Fair Country is a modest goal. I hope to see real progress towards it.

  3. Manyblackbirds@live.ca'
    Kurious George March 8, 2018 at 6:38 am #

    How can the Designated Agency which is responsible for impartially monitoring the child’s foster placement including the legislative mandate that a “child in care” worker also meets privately with the child to review the placement also be the owner and operator of said foster home? Seems to me that MCYS is dancing around this one. The “child in care” worker is supposed to be the child’s advocate and designated voice of authority. If not them, then who?

  4. Manyblackbirds@live.ca'
    Kurious George March 8, 2018 at 6:23 am #

    Maybe I am a little confused by this but it was my understanding that Designated Agencies have a responsibility to impartially monitor a child’s placement in a foster home including a legislative requirement for the child in care worker to privately interview each child to ensure that the child’s need for safety and wellbeing is being ensured. If the Designated Agency is the foster care home owner and operator and body responsible for impartially monitoring placement not a conflict of interest and possibly worst, not in keeping with the legislative framework? If the “child in care” worker is responsible for advocating and monitoring a child’s care in a placement can the worker do this impartially when the worker’s employer is also the care provider? Seems to me that the Ministry of Children, Youth and Families is skirting around this one. Someone needs to ask MCYS if this arrangement meets the legislative requirements.

  5. m*************@live.ca'
    Kurious George February 19, 2019 at 11:40 pm #

    How can the Designated Agency which is responsible for impartially monitoring the child’s foster placement including the legislative mandate that a “child in care” worker also meets privately with the child to review the placement also be the owner and operator of said foster home? Seems to me that MCYS is dancing around this one. The “child in care” worker is supposed to be the child’s advocate and designated voice of authority. If not them, then who?

  6. m*************@live.ca'
    Kurious George February 19, 2019 at 11:40 pm #

    Maybe I am a little confused by this but it was my understanding that Designated Agencies have a responsibility to impartially monitor a child’s placement in a foster home including a legislative requirement for the child in care worker to privately interview each child to ensure that the child’s need for safety and wellbeing is being ensured. If the Designated Agency is the foster care home owner and operator and body responsible for impartially monitoring placement not a conflict of interest and possibly worst, not in keeping with the legislative framework? If the “child in care” worker is responsible for advocating and monitoring a child’s care in a placement can the worker do this impartially when the worker’s employer is also the care provider? Seems to me that the Ministry of Children, Youth and Families is skirting around this one. Someone needs to ask MCYS if this arrangement meets the legislative requirements.