Phoenix Sinclair’s parents deemed fit to care for third newborn child one year after Phoenix taken by CFS
For almost two years, a public inquiry examined the death of Phoenix Sinclair, who bounced in and out of foster care before she was murdered by her mother and mother's boyfriend. (file image)
Published Monday, November 19, 2012 5:01PM CST
Last Updated Monday, November 19, 2012 5:13PM CST
The Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry heard new testimony Monday, from a child welfare worker who said she had no concerns about Samantha Kematch and Steven Sinclair’s ability to parent a child in 2001.
The inquiry is looking into the circumstances surrounding Phoenix Sinclair’s life and death. Phoenix was in and out of foster care throughout her life before being killed at age five on the Fisher River Cree Nation, north of Winnipeg, in 2005. Phoenix's mother, Kematch, and stepfather, Karl McKay, were found guilty in 2008 of first-degree murder in her death.
On Monday, the inquiry heard that Kematch gave birth to a third child on Aug. 29, 2001, just days after Phoenix turned one year old in the care of child and family services. Kematch’s three-year-old son was already a permanent ward of CFS at that time.
The worker, who cannot be identified due to restrictions in the inquiry, testified that she met with Kematch and Sinclair shortly after the birth of their third child, after a nurse referred the case to her.
At the time she was working at a Winnipeg hospital and interviewed the pair to determine what supports they might need for the baby.
The worker testified she signed a report suggesting they be discharged with their baby and had “no concerns.”
She contacted Kematch’s CFS worker to discuss the child and found that CFS had no idea Kematch had been pregnant – making the third time Kematch had concealed a pregnancy from the agency.
Kematch’s CFS worker made detailed notes of the exchange, saying that the pair appeared to have necessary supplies from when Phoenix was born and that they seemed “very attentive” to their newborn child.
The worker recommended they be discharged with their newborn and made arrangements for Kematch’s CFS worker to follow up in the community.
Later, the court heard testimony from CFS worker Kathy Peterson, who received Sinclair, Kematch’s and Phoenix’s case in 2001. She said at the time, Phoenix’s file was determined “low risk.”
This came just one year after Kematch and Sinclair were deemed to be unfit parents, and their child, Phoenix, was handed over immediately to CFS workers.
In 2000, CFS workers cited concern over Kematch’s lack of preparation for Phoenix, including no pre-natal care or plans for how she would care for the child. CFS workers had also expressed concern for Kematch’s apparent mental health issues, own history of abuse and lack of attentiveness to Phoenix when she was born.