life and death in care - child welfare



“I miss her laughs and everything.”


There are more Indigenous kids in the child welfare system today than at the height of residential schools. But no one knows exactly how high the number goes, as not all jurisdictions keep data on the number of kids in care, and while the Trudeau government claims child welfare is a leading cause of suicides among Indigenous youth APTN uncovered not all Indigenous children suicides are classified as such.

The federal government also does little to track data on suicide rates across the country.

Meanwhile, families continue to fight a broken system that shuts them out like in the suicide of Kanina Sue Turtle. The 15-year-old left goodbye letters but they were kept from her family for over two years, much like the video of her suicide was for nine months.

APTN reporters dug into the child welfare crisis throughout 2018 showing a direct connection between the suicide crisis and child welfare. Then in December, the Trudeau government announced plans to intruduce Indigenous child welfare legislation in January 2019. 


Kanina Sue Turtle 


Kanina Sue Turtle Investigation

Family wants to know why daughter left alone to film her suicide in foster home

A Poplar Hill First Nation family is struggling to find answers as to how their 15-year-old daughter was left alone to film her suicide in a Sioux Lookout foster home.

Foster home where First Nations girl filmed her suicide owned by child welfare agency

Soon after learning Kanina Sue Turtle filmed her suicide inside a foster home, APTN uncovered that the home was owned and operated by the child welfare agency that removed her from her home in Poplar Hill First Nation.

Child welfare agency suspected First Nations girls were planning suicides

When Kanina Sue Turtle last visited her First Nation she told her mother she had met someone in Sioux Lookout. It was a girl and they were close.

‘What am I going to say in that room?’: Mother to visit foster home where daughter died by suicide

Kanina’s mother decided it was time to visit the foster home and say goodbye to her daughter.


Kanina Sue Turtle’s family sues Tikinagan for $5.9M over her ‘wrongful death’ in foster home

Almost two years after Kanina died her family filed a lawsuit against Tikinagan Child and Family Services alleging her death could have been prevented.

Love and death in child welfare: Kanina Sue Turtle’s last days

Kanina missed every appointment with her counsellor in the five days leading up to her death. The regional coroner would say a year later it didn’t appear anything could have saved her.

Ontario authorities have kept teen’s suicide letters from her family for 724 days and counting

When Barbara Suggashie first saw the video of her daughter’s suicide she only watched the first few minutes. She wanted to see if her daughter said goodbye.


Tracking Suicides


Data reveals close to 600 suicides in northern Ontario since the mid-1980s

Brian Rae remembers his nephew, Dario Strang, as someone who was smart and did well in school. Rae thought Strang had a bright future ahead of him.

Indigenous children suicides not classified as suicide: coroner’s offices

When children under the age of 10 die by suicide in Ontario, their deaths are likely to be deemed an accident or as “undetermined” by the provincial coroner’s office.

Despite spending millions on prevention, feds don’t keep track of suicide epidemic of Indigenous people

Millions of dollars are spent every year to fight suicide epidemics amongst Indigenous peoples in Canada but the federal government collects little to no data about the actual suicide rates.

VIDEO | Keeping track of the suicide epidemic of Indigenous peoples

For decades, it’s been called an epidemic. Suicides in Indigenous communities. Yet we actually don’t know the exact number of how many have died. APTN Investigates reporter, Martha Troian searched for those answers.



A Broken System



Ontario still can’t say how many Indigenous kids in care despite new law to track them

The 49 children’s aid societies in Ontario were supposed to start collecting race-based data as of Feb. 5, 2018 in part to determine the number of Indigenous kids taken from their homes.

Crucial detail left out of Ontario’s new child welfare legislation

When the Ontario government passed new legislation on child welfare last year it required that the province’s 49 children’s aid societies start collecting race-based data for the first time. Just not report it.

‘It’s bulls–t’: families react to coroner’s report into 8 dead First Nations children

The family of Kanina Sue Turtle has been waiting almost two years for answers into her suicide and feel a report released in September into the death didn’t change that.

Foster homes investigated 7 times within a year but Ontario didn’t close them until Tammy Keeash died: court documents

There were at least seven investigations that verified child protection concerns into a company operating three foster homes in Thunder Bay before the Ontario government shut them down in the weeks following the death of Tammy Keeash in May 2017.


VIDEO | Consent: How one mother beat the child welfare system and got her kid back

When her son started talking about suicide while living in a group home this mother decided she needed to do something. Emails between her and the child welfare agency show she pushed to get him help while being kept at a distance. Then during an unsupervised visit in April she didn’t return him to his group home. She just kept her son at home.