Steve Sinclair got a chance for the first time today to tell his side of the story dealing with child welfare at the inquiry into the death of his daughter, Phoenix.
Well-spoken, composed and articulate, he remembers little contact with the social workers involved in his life after Phoenix was born.
The 32-year-old Sinclair, who chose the name Phoenix, said he tried to avoid contact with Child and Family Services whenever possible. Sinclair was a foster child himself from the time he was 11, the inquiry heard. His bad experiences with child welfare drove him to keep Phoenix with him and CFS at bay, he said.
When Phoenix's mother -- his former partner -- Samantha Kematch came to take the three-year-old from Sinclair in late 2003, he didn't try to stop her or alert CFS even though he told a social worker earlier he was concerned Kematch wasn't a fit parent.
"I gave her her clothes and all her stuff," he told commission counsel Sherri Walsh.
"You were OK with that?" Walsh asked.
"Yes, of course, it was her mother."
'Why not have her mother parent her?'
Sinclair said when he heard that Kematch was partying and not caring for Phoenix, he went to get her back in early January 2004. Phoenix stayed at the home of Kim Edwards and Rohan Stephenson, friends of Sinclair’s and a place CFS had once approved as a place of safety for Phoenix.
In April 2004, Kematch took Phoenix from that home for a visit and never returned her.
Sinclair said he called CFS trying to discover their whereabouts, but didn't report any concern about her safety and well-being.
"I ran it over in my mind," Sinclair said. "She was with her mother -- why not have her mother parent her? Isn't that what mothers do?"
Kematch and her partner Karl McKay murdered Phoenix in 2005.
They were convicted of first-degree murder in December 2008.
Both have refused to participate in the public inquiry as they serve life sentences with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.
Meanwhile, Winnipeg police are investigating a potential threat related to the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry.
This afternoon, the inquiry commission said they have been advised of a potential threat, but will be carrying on with the hearing schedule.
The commission did not provide further information regarding the threat.
Manitoba Justice, who is providing security at the public hearing, has also been made aware of the threat