Heaven Traverse's family demands answers into foster-care death
'We still don't have our answers yet,' says toddler's aunt, who seeks provincial inquest
The Phoenix Sinclair inquiry report, with its recommendations for Manitoba's child welfare system, brings little relief to relatives of Heaven Traverse, a two-year-old child who died in foster care.
"For Heaven, I guess, there's no closure for the family. We still don't have our answers yet," her aunt, Janelle Sutherland-Traverse, told CBC News late Monday.
But the charges against Douglas and Darlene Sutherland were stayed in 2007 due to a lack of evidence.
Last week, the Manitoba government released the final report from the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry, which examined how the province's child welfare system failed the five-year-old girl before she was murdered by her mother and stepfather in June 2005.
Led by commissioner Ted Hughes, the $14-million public inquiry — one of the biggest in Manitoba's history — sat for 91 days and heard testimony from 126 witnesses as it looked at how Child and Family Services (CFS) officials handled Phoenix's case during her brief life.
The report contained 62 recommendations for improving the system and was a call out to address “deeply rooted” issues.
- Manitoba sorry for failing to protect Phoenix Sinclair
- 'There will be more Phoenixes': reaction to inquiry report mixed
- Visit cbc.ca Aboriginal
Sutherland-Traverse said while she hopes the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry report will prevent other children from falling through the cracks, she still lacks confidence in the CFS system.
The aunt added that she and Heaven's biological father, Lawrence Traverse, had raised concerns in the past over the care the child received in foster care.
"We feel she was failed because they never went and checked on these kids," she said. "If they did, they would've seen the way they were living."
Sutherland-Traverse is calling on the province to hold an inquiry into Heaven's death, as she believes child-welfare authorities need to be held accountable.
With files from the CBC's Jill Coubrough