Della Fines

Della Fines

  • Former social worker in contact with SOR #5
  • Testified that SOR #5 did not warn her Phoenix was being abused
SOR #7

SOR #7

  • Foster parent
  • Called CFS in March 2005 on behalf of SOR #6 to warn agency that Phoenix was in danger
SOR #6

SOR #6

  • Friend of Samantha Kematch
  • Feared Phoenix was being neglected and sexually abused

Long-swallowed anger

Thursday, January 10

Samantha Kematch was a broken person -- that description from a witness we can't identify, who spoke of a frustrating call made to CFS in March of 2005. The witness had serious concerns Phoenix Sinclair was in danger.

Those concerns came from the witness's former foster child. The foster child knew Kematch and had observed enough disturbing behaviour toward Phoenix, her daughter, to merit a call to CFS.

The former foster child spoke of Kematch's hostile attitude toward Phoenix -- stalking away from the little girl, leaving her on the front step with her boots undone and instructing her friends not to help her.

On another occasion, the friend asked to take a picture of Samantha and her baby with boyfriend, Karl McKay. Samantha posed lovingly, holding the child to her chest.

The friend asked next to take a picture of Phoenix. "What do you want to take a picture of her for?" came the dark reply.

The friend shared fears with the former foster parent that Phoenix was being abused and possibly locked in a room while her mother was out. The foster parent had met Kematch once before and thought she was dangerous.

This afternoon the foster parent -- who also works in the child welfare system -- broke down several times, recounting the futile effort to save Phoenix Sinclair.

The witness called CFS armed with information from the former foster child. As the witness began to relay that information to the social worker on the other end of the line -- she threw up a roadblock.

"I'm going to stop you right there," the social worker said. "I can't take third-hand information."

Stunned, the witness told the social worker she needed to take down this information because "it wasn't a game; it was serious."

The witness told the worker that there "must be a file a mile long on Samantha Kematch."

The witness said if the agency had placed Phoenix in Kematch's care, someone had made a "grave error."

The witness told the worker Kematch lived in Apartment No. 1 in a building behind the Maryland Hotel. The witness didn't have a phone number or address for Kematch, but again asserted that she was definitely in the system.

Desperate to impress the gravity of the situation upon the social worker, the witness ended with this parting shot: "If anything happens to Phoenix, I am going to hold you personally responsible."

It was a tough day. Heavy emotions -- regret and long-swallowed anger -- cracked the voices of the witnesses.

There was little cross-examination. No one wanted to touch the forthright, searing words of the witnesses who tried to sound the alarm ... and throw Phoenix Sinclair one last life-line.

Inside the inquiry

With CBC's Katie Nicholson where an inquiry is trying to figure out how a little girl fell through the cracks.


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