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This article was published 23/4/2009 (3831 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A funeral and burial service was held today for five-year-old Phoenix Sinclair, who was killed in 2005 by her mother and stepfather.
More than 200 mourners filled the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre for the service for the little girl, who would have celebrated her ninth birthday today.
Her tiny white coffin, covered in pink roses, was surrounded by teddy bears, wreaths and flowers.
Little girls in dresses and little boys wearing ties raced through the hall before the formal service began at 11 a.m. Pastor Tim Campbell led the service, calling it a chance "to grieve and say goodbye."
Liberal leader Jon Gerrard and children's advocate Billie Schibler were among those in attendance, as the mourners listened as the girl’s former foster mother, Kim Edwards, said she misses young Phoenix every day.
Edwards, considered an honorary mother by friends and family, struggled through her eulogy. She remembered Phoenix as a child who was polite, loved to laugh, was bright and so very beautiful.
"She was so affectionate. She had a beauty that radiated," Edwards said as a low sobbing began in the room. "She had skin like a China doll."
The service ended less than an hour after it had begun, grim-faced people filing out into the sunshine. The tiny white box was placed in the back of a hearse and the funeral procession drove slowly away.
Her family buried her at Brookside cemetery yesterday in a properly marked grave. Purple balloons were released as she went into the ground.
The stories of how Phoenix was repeatedly abused, neglected, tortured, confined to a cold basement, starved, forced to eat her own vomit and shot with a pellet gun "for sport" horrified Canadians and led to the first-degree murder convictions of her mother and stepfather. A public inquiry into how badly the child welfare system let down Phoenix is still to be held.
In June 2005, after months of abuse, her mother and stepfather beat her one final time and left her to die on the family's cold basement floor. Her body was found at the garbage dump on the Fisher River First Nation, about 200 kilometres north of Winnipeg, in March 2006 after other children in the home told police what happened to Phoenix.
The parents were sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. They admitted at trial to being responsible for Phoenix's death and the burial of her body near the dump. But they sought lesser convictions of manslaughter. Each pointed the finger at the other, both in court and in jailhouse interviews following their trial.
Phoenix's death shone a light on the devolution of the child welfare system which serves native children in Manitoba. Months after her death, the minister responsible announced the legislation dictating the agencies' mandate would be changed to put child safety as the first consideration ahead of cultural considerations.
— with files from staff, The Canadian Press