Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

School not in cards for little Phoenix

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Phoenix Sinclair was registered for nursery school in September 2004 but no one showed up for an appointment with the teacher and the little girl never attended the Winnipeg inner-city school.

Retired principal Angeline Ramkissoon told the inquiry into the little girl's death Wednesday that Wellington School records show Phoenix's mom, Samantha Kematch, filled out the paperwork.

The records show Kematch listed herself and Karl McKay as the only people allowed to pick Phoenix up from school.

Kematch and McKay killed Phoenix in 2005 and her body was found buried at the dump at Fisher River First Nation in 2006.

When the little girl didn't show up to begin nursery school in the fall of 2004, the school sent someone to her home, said Ramkissoon, who retired this year. The classroom teacher, she said, was under the impression Phoenix "went to the reserve," a common occurrence at the school, which has a large aboriginal population.

Ramkissoon said she didn't read anything into it because nursery school isn't compulsory and sometimes parents decide not to send their children until they're a little older.

The veteran administrator of inner-city schools said if Phoenix had been able to attend school, there would've been a lot of people looking out for her.

"We will call if we have concern about safety or neglect of a child," she said.

-- -- --

The hospital social worker who saw Samantha Kematch when she was pregnant with her fourth baby in 2004 and notified Child and Family Services, didn't report Kematch's fifth baby born in 2005 -- the same year Phoenix was killed by Kematch and her boyfriend, Karl McKay.

"I hadn't identified any concerns of a child protection nature," said the "source of referral," whose identity is protected.

Kematch's first-born was apprehended and made a permanent ward of CFS. Her third baby, Echo, died of pneumonia as an infant after she abandoned Phoenix and Echo with their father, Steve Sinclair.

-- Carol Sanders

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2012 A5

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