May 26, 2015


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No record of 2005 call reporting abuse: CFS quality-assurance manager at Phoenix inquiry

The manager in charge of quality assurance for Intertribal Child and Family Services (ICFS) says he could find no record of anyone calling to report the abuse of Phoenix Sinclair in the summer of 2005.

Randy Murdock told the inquiry into Phoenix's death that he was in the agency’s Winnipeg office when a call came in Mar. 6, 2006, from a woman reporting the alleged abuse and homicide of the five-year-old girl at the Fisher River First Nation.

Phoenix Sinclair is shown in a family photo released by the Commission of Inquiry looking into her 2005 death.

HANDOUT / THE CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES

Phoenix Sinclair is shown in a family photo released by the Commission of Inquiry looking into her 2005 death.

Murdock’s notes from that time said he took the "gruesome" information from the ex-wife of Karl Wes McKay, who said her two sons had spent the summer with McKay and his girlfriend Samantha Kematch in Fisher River First Nation.

Phoenix spent much of her life in foster care or with family friends in Winnipeg, but was eventually returned into the custody of her mother, Samantha Kematch. Kematch and McKay, who was the mother's boyfriend neglected and abused Phoenix before a final deadly assault in June 2005. The girl's death went undetected for nine months.

The inquiry into how Phoenix fell through Manitoba’s child-welfare safety net heard earlier from the therapist who treated one of McKay’s sons, who said the boy’s mother -- who cannot be named under a publication ban -- had reported to CFS the abuse the boy had witnessed in the summer.

In March 2006, the boy's mother learned it was worse than abuse – it was homicide – and contacted Intertribal CFS.

Murdock said his notes from the day indicate the woman told Murdock that Kematch’s daughter was choked and abused and died after McKay threw her down basement stairs and her head split open.

There is no mention in Murdock’s typewritten notes of the caller telling him she had reported the alleged abuse of a little girl at McKay’s home the previous summer to child welfare.

Two days after taking the call from the woman -- and after receiving a call from police asking if his agency had any records of her contacting ICFS earlier concerning the little girl -- Murdock added a note by hand to his recording of the call saying the woman reported calling the agency earlier about the alleged abuse.

Murdock said he was so shocked by the initial phone call that he didn’t mention it in his notes right away but remembered to add it later because it was important.

His notes don’t say which agency she said she called that summer, and Murdock said he didn’t ask the woman.

"It strikes me as a bit odd you wouldn’t want to know, based on what (she) is saying," commission counsel Derek Olson told Murdock. "Do you have any explanation?"

"I don’t have any explanation."

He said he went through the agency’s records and could find no recording of the call the boys’ mother said she made the summer of 2005. Murdock said he didn’t ask any of the workers at the agency if they remembered any such call. The RCMP had told him not to discuss the case with agency employees.

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