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This article was published 6/3/2009 (4373 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THE suicide of a 16-year-old girl in care in Winnipeg has led the chief of her remote First Nation to ask why child welfare authorities are not providing more details to them and her family around her death, including the services she received before she died.
Jessica Joy Owens of Pauingassi died in Winnipeg last week after she killed herself in the company of another 17-year-old foster child from the same community, said Chief Harold Crow.
The two girls had reportedly been drinking before Owens hung herself in a nearby room after saying she was going to bed, Crow said he was told by Owens' parents.
Southern Authority chief executive officer Elsie Flette said Friday she could not comment on whether the foster family was still responsible for any additional children after Owens' death.
Crow said Owens' family has been shattered by suicide, after three of the six siblings in the family have taken their own lives. He said Owens was under the care of an agency under the province's Southern Authority, and visited her home community 280 kilometers northeast of Winnipeg only days before her death.
"Nobody ever tried to give this family the appropriate support and the comfort they needed," said Crow, who said he wants to see more child welfare resources put into his community to help children and youth stay connected to their families.
"We're a very isolated First Nation and nobody pays attention to us.
"They only time they pay attention to us is when something tragic happens."
Crow said he was unsure if the second teen was still in the care of the same foster family.
Owens had lived in Winnipeg for about five years before her death, said Crow.
He said he is working with Owens' family to try and illuminate the circumstances about what happened in the time period before Owens' suicide. He said the Owens family told him she called her family days before her death.
Flette refused to provide any specific details on Owens' death, except that police were investigating. She said an internal review was launched into the circumstances of the death by the Office of the Children's Advocate, and by the agency involved in Owens' care.
"I know the police are still investigating and interviewing people," she said.