Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Longtime friend of father took care of Phoenix, Sinclair inquiry hears
The woman who cared for Phoenix Sinclair and was called "nana mom" by the child killed in care testified she looked after Phoenix from the time she was returned to her parents after being apprehended at birth.
Kim Edwards testified this morning at the inquiry into her death that weekend visits started from when Phoenix was three months old and soon turned into week-long stays when Samantha Kematch became pregnant with Phoenix's baby sister, Echo.
Edwards said Phoenix's father, Steve Sinclair, told her Kematch was "hormonal" and that's why she was pushing baby Phoenix away.
By the time baby Echo was born, Edwards said Phoenix had become a part of her family and spent most of her time at her home with her husband Rohan Stephenson and their children. Edwards said she'd known Sinclair since before he was in a relationship with Kematch.
Edwards said she met Sinclair at a gas station after her Bible study meeting and struck up a conversation. They became friends, sharing a love of music. After Phoenix was born, they shared of a love of her. She described Phoenix as "awesome" and Sinclair's role as a father as "awesome."
Edwards said after Kematch left Sinclair with the kids and baby Echo died in July 2001 from a respiratory infection, Sinclair was in "despair." She said "outside influences" were encouraging Sinclair to drown his sorrows. Edwards said he never left Phoenix with her so he could go drinking but because he liked the family atmosphere of her home.
"He said, 'I like what you got here'.... My family was great."
When Edwards and her husband Stephenson separated, he moved out, she testified, contradicting her ex-husband who testified last week. Stephenson said the couple split up for good at Christmas time in 2002 and Edwards moved out. Edwards said it was Stephenson who moved out and returned for visits when they tried to reconcile several times. She said she didn't move out of their Selkirk Avenue home until the end of 2003.
Edwards denied ever meeting the Child and Family Services place of safety worker Mario Rojas who was trying to have their home formally designated as a foster home for Phoenix. He testified earlier about their meeting and documented a conversation he had with her in an email to Stan Williams, the social worker assigned to Phoenix's case.
At times, Edwards contradicted herself. She said she wasn't there when Kematch picked up Phoenix before her fourth birthday in April 2004 from the home on Selkirk Avenue and never brought her back. In later testimony, she said she was there and could recall details of the occasion.
Edwards' testimony continues this afternoon.
Updated on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 2:36 PM CST: corrects typos
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