Monday, January 21
Source of Referral #10's time on the stand was short but powerful.
The witness, who can't be identified by a court order, used to look after Phoenix Sinclair in her last years.
The witness spoke of a smiling girl who loved to dance ... except when her mother, Samantha Kematch, was around.
Around Kematch, the witness said, Phoenix was quiet and withdrawn. Kematch was a "terrible mother," often emotionally and verbally abusive toward Phoenix.
The witness remembered the time Kematch brought Phoenix over for a visit. The witness asked if Phoenix was hungry and she nodded. Kematch, however, said she couldn't eat. The witness ignored Kematch and set a place at the table for Phoenix.
The witness was attached to Phoenix, even at one point offering to take care of the little girl more permanently.
"You can keep the welfare cheques," the witness offered. Kematch refused.
In 2005, the witness grew suspicious that something was wrong. Kematch
would often visit Winnipeg from Fisher River, but Phoenix was never with
The witness would ask about Phoenix but the reply from Kematch was always the same: "With Karl's niece."
Karl, of course, was Karl Wesley McKay, who was Kematch's common-law partner.
The witness spoke of a frenzied attempt to locate the little girl in August 2005, calling every single CFS agency in the province.
The agencies insisted there was no Phoenix Victoria Hope Sinclair in the system.
After somewhere between 20 and 30 calls, the witness got a hold of social worker Stan Williams.
The witness's voice broke recounting that conversation.
"I'll never forget those words," the witness told the inquiry.
Williams assured the witness that "Phoenix is well and doing fine."
In fact, Phoenix had been dead for nearly two months.
With CBC's Katie Nicholson where an inquiry is trying to figure out how a little girl fell through the cracks.