Monday, April 22
It was a day of horrible details, hazy memories, and confusion as Karl McKay's sons and their mother took the stand. The names of all three are protected by a court order.
Doe #3, McKay's ex-common-law wife, was the first to testify. She spoke of the horrible abuse she suffered at McKay's hands: how he would beat her and how twice she was convinced he was going to kill her.
After the second time -- when McKay tried to throw her and her son, Doe #1, down the stairs -- she left him.
But years later, in 2005, she feared her son might be lured by gangs in Winnipeg. She had heard that McKay had become a Christian, moved to Fisher River, and was going to marry the new woman in his life.
She decided to send her son to live with his father for a while on the reserve -- a move endorsed by a community-based intervention program.
Doe #1, who was 12 years old at the time, began living in Fisher River in April 2005. Sometimes his brother, 14-year-old Doe #2, would accompany him.
But Doe #3 said she had concerns about her boys in Fisher River. They called because there was no food or toilet paper in the home.
Doe #3 gave money to Samantha Kematch and McKay to keep food on the table, but she wasn't convinced her boys were being properly cared for.
Doe #3 also testified that she was aware of the existence of a little girl living with McKay and Kematch. Phoenix was usually in the back seat when McKay would pick up or drop off his sons.
She expressed concerns that the little girl was always kept under blankets, mostly hidden, in a car.
Doe #3's foster son, Jeremy Roulette, also expressed concerns that the little girl had a large welt on her forehead.
Doe #3 testified that she called a child welfare agency during her sons' time in Fisher River. She told the inquiry that the woman who answered the phone at the child welfare agency took her name and number and told her everyone was on vacation.
But there was a great deal of confusion during her testimony as to whether she called the Intertribal CFS office in Fisher River or Winnipeg, or if she had called Peguis CFS.
The inquiry's own investigator combed through MTS records of Doe #3's landline, and the records of Intertribal CFS, and found no record of any such call.
As she wrapped her testimony, Doe #3 lamented the effect the murder of Phoenix Sinclair had on her family: "We're not close anymore. We're angry, we're hurt, we're sad," she said.
On Karl McKay, she spat bitterly: "I hate him for what he did to my family. He broke us."
It prompted an unprecedented moment at these proceedings. Commissioner Ted Hughes, his voice taut, pledged to help Doe #3 repair her broken family.
"I've heard what you've just said", he began, "and I don't know what I can do but whatever I can to help your family, by speaking to people who have responsibility.
"I will do that because I hear you when you say your family is broken, what this has done to you," he added.
"I'll tell you whatever I can do I'll do, and I know the people that I'll talk to will do their part to try to put your life and your boys back together."
Doe #1 and Doe #2 followed their mother. Both testified of a malnourished and neglected little girl to whom they slipped food on the sly.
Doe #1 was just a boy of 12 when he witnessed the relentless beating that would end Phoenix's life. He stated that Kematch sat on the stairs and watched as McKay pummeled the little girl.
The couple then left to get pot, leaving Doe #1 to tend to Phoenix's cold, lifeless body.
Doe #1 told the inquiry he wished he knew enough then -- at the age of 12 -- to report the abuse and prevent Phoenix's death.
"If I could go back then I would have said something." he said. "I would have totally reported or something I would have reported it myself. But from what I was seeing, I just I thought it was just normal."
Normal is not, likely, something any of the Does will ever know again. As Doe #1 conceded, these events have left an indelible mark on him.
"I have to admit, I'm a pretty f---ed-up person now," he said.
With CBC's Katie Nicholson where an inquiry is trying to figure out how a little girl fell through the cracks.