'We're fighters': Family of Winnipeg toddler killed in 2018 call for justice

Family of a toddler who was killed in Winnipeg last year say they'll fight for justice so the little boy can rest in peace.

Drake Catcheway, who died of blunt force injuries last summer, would have turned 3 years old on Wednesday

Drake Catcheway would have turned three years old this week. Police say he died from blunt force injuries he sustained on August 30. (Submitted by April Thompson)

Family of a toddler who was killed in Winnipeg last year say they'll fight for justice so the little boy can rest in peace.

Drake Catcheway was 21 months old when he was found unresponsive in his family's home on Idylwild Bay in August 2018. The little boy later died of blunt force injuries.

Allen Joseph Frier Beardy, who was dating Catcheway's mother at the time, has been charged with manslaughter in connection to his death.

Beardy attended a preliminary inquiry in a Winnipeg courtroom on Tuesday. Family members of the toddler gathered outside to call for justice and show support for his mother.

"We promised Drake that we were going to fight until we get justice for him," said Adrienne Thompson, Catcheway's grandmother, outside court.

"We're fighters and we're not going to let this go, and we're not going to be afraid to speak up for what's right for justice for Drake."

Family members and supporters of Drake Catcheway gathered at the entrance to the Winnipeg court Tuesday to show their support for his mother and make a call for justice. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Police said in 2018 they believe the boy was injured on two separate occasions on Aug. 30, 2018. The first injury is alleged to have happened at the child's home on Redwood Avenue that afternoon, the other at a family member's home on Idylwild Bay in the Maples later that evening.

They said a weapon was not used in the death and that the injuries were "substantial and severe."

Beardy, who is not the boy's father, had been in a relationship with his mother, April Thompson, for about six months when the child died.

The family has previously held rallies in their home community of Little Saskatchewan First Nation, about 225 kilometres north of Winnipeg, and Portage la Prairie.

On Tuesday, Adrienne Thompson said Catcheway would have turned three years old on Wednesday.

She remembered her grandson as a quiet, happy child with a strong connection to his mother.

"Between April and Drake, they had such a very special, tight bond. And now it's broken, and it's shattered," she said. "And it's hard to see April broken like this. That is why we're showing our support for her today."

Family members of Drake Catcheway gathered outside Winnipeg's courthouse Tuesday where Allen Joseph Frier Beardy attended a preliminary inquiry. Beardy is charged with manslaughter in Catcheway's death. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Thomas Sinclair, a friend of April Thompson, said he admired the family's strength after their loss. But he said he's concerned they won't get justice in Drake's death, based on let-downs he's had in the past from the justice system.

"The family just wants closure," he said. "Hopefully, we can wish for the best — pray for the best."

Catcheway's other grandmother, Esther Chunick, helped raise the little boy. She smiled as she remembered how he used to joke with her, and how she used to pull a mattress onto the floor and lay alongside him as a newborn.

"I still love him a lot," she said. "I just miss him terribly."

Family members made signs calling for justice for Drake Catcheway, who was almost two years old when he was killed in 2018. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

With files from Holly Caruk