Thursday, December 13
Confusing, contradictory, and occasionally very loud.
Phoenix Sinclair's godmother, Kim Edwards, was under cross-examination today.
It was a long frustrating morning for Gord McKinnon, the lawyer for Manitoba's Department of Family Services.
McKinnon tried to wrestle straight answers from Edwards: Where did she live while looking after Phoenix? When did she move out of her Selrkik Avenue home? When did her relationship with Rohan Stephenson dissolve? But Edwards wasn't about to say uncle.
Edwards, deeply mistrustful of the Child and Family Services (CFS) system, refuted almost all the evidence in agency records.
Yesterday, she threw around terms like "outright lies." Today, McKinnon asked whether she was suggesting Winnipeg CFS workers fabricate documents.
Edwards leaned forward.
"That is what I am definitely suggesting because I have seen it myself," she replied.
Edwards frequently worked herself up, ranting and raging against the system and the line of questioning she faced.
She became increasingly agitated when asked for specific dates and times, barking hostile and snippy replies at lawyers.
At other times, overwhelmed by facts and figures, she broke down in frustration.
"Keep in mind what we're dealing with. We're dealing with a child. My God!" she exclaimed. "Everything is just cold hard facts here."
Inquiry commissioner Ted Hughes called for several breaks so Edwards could calm down. At times, he even coached her on the stand.
"You're doing fine," he assured her at one point.
When Edwards was worked up, she railroaded McKinnon with opinions, and Hughes would step in and say, "Just let him ask the question."
Edwards responded well to Hughes's gentle tones. She often apologized to him for her outbursts politely, deferring to his authority.
There were also more inflammatory comments, like this one delivered in slow deliberate tones: "We didn't know Samantha was going to do this. Had I [known], I would have eliminated Samantha," she said.
The room rang with sound and fury, but we learned very few relevant facts.
At the most, Edwards agreed to disagree with CFS records. She even took issue with her own previous accounts of events entered in evidence.
The only thing we did learn, spelled out in the tracks of tears flowing freely down Edwards's cheeks, was just how deeply she still grieves Phoenix's brutal end.
With CBC's Katie Nicholson where an inquiry is trying to figure out how a little girl fell through the cracks.