A report by an expert panel is out, and it includes details about what happened in connection with the death of a Grassy teen in Kenora.
The panel's report says the province's child protection system repeatedly failed to meet fundamental needs of youth at risk, including Azraya Kokopenace, who died near Kenora's hospital in 2016.
"The panel found that in the 12 cases of young people that were reviewed, the systems that were involved repeatedly failed in their collective responsibility to meet the fundamental needs of the young people. While no one individual or organization is at fault for these failures, it is important to recognize that it is people that make organizations and systems work – and people that define how they must work," the panelists concluded.
Panel members included Treaty 3 Elder Sherry Copenace, who teaches social work at the University of Manitoba. Theresa Stevens, who was the executive director for Anishinaabe Abinoojii Family Services, also made a presentation to the panel. Stevens now leads the Association of Native Child and Family Service Agencies of Ontario.
The province's child advocate was blunt in his response.
“Enough is enough – this must be the last report of its kind that is needed,” said Irwin Elman in a prepared statement. “That children and youth should survive our province’s attempts to protect and support them is a low bar to set, but that is where we are.”
The report echoes the findings of a report last year by the province, along with calls for better funding for First Nations agencies and the reunification of children with their families on First Nations.
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