June 23, 2017


13° C, Overcast

Full Forecast


Advertise With Us

Historic Article

He had a name; it's OK to say it

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/9/2007 (3558 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

HIS name was Gage Guimond. He was two years old. He had a sister, a set of foster parents who loved him and foster siblings who considered him their brother. He had asthma, still drank from a bottle and wore a pair of blue rubber boots when he played outside.

He was killed while under the care of Child and Family Services, "reunited" with a family member he didn't know. His great-aunt is charged in his death.

The issues surrounding his death became a political football Tuesday, dragged out by Manitoba's opposition leader to shame the NDP into taking steps to rehabilitate their chaotic Child and Family Services department. But Gage Guimond's short life was shamefully ignored. PC leader Hugh McFadyen, God bless him, led Tuesday's question period with a challenge to Gary Doer. He spoke of a revolving door of Child and Family Services ministers, of front-line workers confused by the effects of devolution and the fact that "the children are ultimately the ones that pay the price."

He did not name Gage Guimond, a brown-eyed boy with the engaging smile.

The premier acknowledged that whenever a child dies or is injured or is hurt (staggering his way down the list of possible results of being put into the care of people wholly incapable of looking after a child), it causes heartache for all members of the legislative assembly.

I would hope so.

"The best child welfare system is no child welfare system," Doer thundered. Families and safe environments are the best places for children, he said stating the obvious, and the safety of children is paramount.

While he touched briefly on the "alleged murder" of the very dead Phoenix Sinclair, he did not name Gage Guimond, who is also dead and allegedly murdered.

Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard spoke too, talking of the "tragic failures" under the NDP government, linking the child welfare system to an increase in youth crime. He did not name Gage Guimond.

Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh responded. He said that even the death of one child in care is "sickening." He talked about the 289 recommendations for change in the system the government has accepted. He spoke of the need for a "multi-faceted approach."

He did not name Gage Guimond.

It is not as though the names of the dead can't be uttered in the house. Tuesday, all three leaders paid tribute to two Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. They spoke of their character and the sacrifice they made for our country. A moment of silence was observed, a rare and wonderful thing in a room normally filled with jeers and heckling.

It was moving and entirely appropriate.

I hope I will be forgiven for hoping that a second moment would be dedicated to the memory of a baby who was "allegedly murdered" while under the care of a government agency.

There is a great deal of tiptoeing in any discussion of devolution, the process by which care of thousands of children was handed over to aboriginal agencies. A politician who questions too hard will find himself accused of racism. The government knows this, the opposition knows this and the rest of us certainly know it. This may be why, although McFadyen came out swinging, he ultimately pulled his punches.

He did question the "incoherent and sentimental reasons" for putting kids in care back with their families. He said the safety of children trumps culture. But he needs to go further, to demand to know why the cockeyed policy of putting family with family is allowed to lead to the deaths of children in care.

It's not a hard question.

"The system was broken before the changes were made," the premier said, and the practice of putting culture above all else was begun by the former government.

That's not an answer.

His name was Gage Guimond. He was two years old. He was killed while under the care of a child welfare system sworn to keep him from harm.



Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Photo Store

Scroll down to load more