For Winnipeg mother Cynthia Lacquette, the pain of her son's murder nearly 15 years ago is still as raw the day it happened.

"It still hurts," she said, wiping back tears. "My family is not the same. It's never been the same."

Not only is the grieving mother still dealing with the 2002 murder of her 11-year-old son, James Isaac — she also says the man she trusted to hold her son's killer, and the institution where he was killed, to account failed to take any meaningful action on her case for eight years.

A grieving mom is suing a disbarred Winnipeg lawyer1:49

The lawyer she hired was Barry Gorlick, disbarred in 2015 for misconduct.

On May 10, Lacquette and her family filed a lawsuit naming Gorlick and his former law firm in hopes it might bring some restitution.

The suit alleges Gorlick was negligent in that he failed for years to take any action on a civil lawsuit against Thomas McEvoy, her son's killer, and the Aboriginal Centre of Winnipeg, where James was killed.

The suit was eventually thrown out.

"I need some type of closure. This was the whole main idea of coming to Barry Gorlick," she said. "I still feel that justice has not been done."

None of the allegations have been proven in court and calls to Gorlick's former law firm have gone unanswered. A statement of defence has yet to be filed.

Lacquette said she found out about Gorlick's disbarment in the news and has since been left picking up the pieces in her case.

"It totally took me by surprise," she said of learning about Gorlick's misconduct. "It just comes down to I trusted him and I thought he would have handled my case a little bit better."

Cynthia Lacquette

Cynthia Lacquette's son James would have been 26 this year. (CBC)

Because of Golick's eight years of alleged inaction, the civil lawsuit against McEvoy and the Aboriginal Centre of Winnipeg was dismissed, she said. Then on appeal, the suit was dismissed again, diminishing all prospects of recovering financial compensation from the killer or the centre.

McEvoy, 23 when he killed James in August of 2002, pleaded guilty to the murder, avoiding a trial process that may have shed light on the events that led up to her son's killing.

McEvoy testified he was high and drunk at the Aboriginal Centre when he ran into James, who McEvoy said taunted him for being the victim of a sexual assault.

He ripped off the boy's pants, beat him and strangled him to death for his taunts.

James' partially clothed body was found in a garbage can in the basement of the Aboriginal Centre.

"I don't think I will ever forgive him. I don't want to ever forgive him. He took a part of me that day," Lacquette said of McEvoy, who is serving life in prison for first-degree murder.

Lacquette still wonders how a boy could wander into a basement and end up coming face-to-face with a man who had a violent history and was, at the time, on bail for threatening to blow up a gay club.

"You expect a centre that big to have procedures on certain things and not knowing who works there, who goes to school there," she said.

'I don't think I'll ever forgive'

The Aboriginal Centre of Winnipeg, now known as the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development, is located at the old Canadian Pacific Railway Station on Higgins Avenue.

Lacquette doesn't believe any review has been done at the centre and says management has never contacted her to express their condolences.

"I was just left to deal with my son's death on my own," Lacquette said.


Emergency crews work to revive James Isaac on Aug. 27, 2002. (CBC)

Lacquette's tears come when she talks about the few weeks leading up to her son's death. At the time, James was being cared for by his great-aunt, Victoria Nepinak.

Just two weeks before he was killed, the two women had decided Lacquette was able to care for him and his brother, Jesse, after committing to sobriety following an addiction.

"She saw that my life was going good," she said. "I was showing her that, you know, I could take care of children."

She remembers James as an independent, happy-go-lucky kid — always on his skateboard or bike and always curious about the world. 

"I've never seen a sad look on his face. I've always known him to be a very happy kid."

This year, her son would have turned 26. 

"They always say you need to forgive. I don't think I'll ever forgive."

James Isaac

James Isaac was 11 when he was beaten and strangled to death at the Aboriginal Centre of Winnipeg. He was at the centre playing computer games with his cousin prior to his murder. (courtesy Cynthia Lacquette)