The social worker who can't account for gaps in service to Phoenix Sinclair was commuting from Brokenhead First Nation to her job at Winnipeg Child and Family Services and attending university full time, the inquiry into the death of the child in care heard this morning.
"I was a very busy person," Delores Chief Abigosis said at the public hearing.
The provincial inquiry is trying to find out if and how the child welfare system failed Phoenix who died in 2005 at the hands of her mother Samantha Kematch and her boyfriend Karl McKay.
Abigosis said she was assigned the case when she started working at CFS in November of 2000. She said her supervisor at CFS knew she was attending classes at the University of Manitoba.
Her first visit with Phoenix and the little girl’s family didn't happen until February 2001, and there was no record of Abigosis doing any work on the file in all of December and January of that year.
Abigosis said she had a demanding caseload, and the troubled young family was no different than any other on her list. She testified she may have tried several times to drop in on the family who had no phone, and failed to make a note of it.
She told the inquiry today she tendered her resignation in July of 2001 partly because the strain of attending school while working full time was taking a toll on her. The other reason was the death of three-month-old Echo Sinclair, Phoenix's baby sister.
Echo was born Apr. 29, 2001 to Kematch and Phoenix's father, Steve Sinclair, although CFS was unaware of the pregnancy. Baby Echo died in July 2001 of an acute respiratory infection. Abigosis said the baby’s death was a traumatic event and she decided to quit working for the agency.