Kierra Elektra Star Williams, the Peguis toddler who was killed a week ago, was involved in the child-welfare system.
Despite rumours swirling about the 21-month-old killed on the First Nation Thursday, little else is known about the circumstances of her death. RCMP have not yet laid charges, and provincial child welfare staff are barred from commenting due to rigid legislation designed to protect the privacy of families with child-welfare files.
"I think hearing about what happened to a 21-month-old baby is heartbreaking," said Manitoba Child and Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross. "I know that there is a desire and a want to understand what happened."
Irvin-Ross confirmed Williams had a child-welfare file, but would not say what kind of services the little girl was receiving, from what agency, for how long or whether there are any early indications the child protection safeguards failed.
On the afternoon of July 17, Williams, who was in medical distress, was taken to the Percy E. Moore Hospital in Hodgson, Man. She eventually succumbed to her injuries later that day.
Manitoba’s chief medical examiner, Thambirajah Balachandra, has completed a preliminary autopsy and forwarded it to RCMP, who would not reveal the cause of Williams’s death Thursday.
The safety of children in the child-welfare system has been under scrutiny since the 2005 death of five-year-old Phoenix Sinclair, who dropped off the radar of social workers and was eventually killed by her mother and stepfather. Her death, and a recent inquiry into how the system failed her, sparked significant changes to the child-welfare system, though deaths persist.