MMIWG: Family says child welfare crisis contributed to daughter-in-law’s death

A Labrador couple says the child welfare crisis played a role in the death of their daughter-in-law, who died after her children were apprehended.

During heartbreaking testimony at the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry in Labrador on Wednesday, Silpa and Gordon Obed told the story of their daughter-in-law, Katie.

She became a single mother to four children in 2015, after her husband, the Obeds’s son, died of tuberculosis.

The Obeds testified that after their son’s death, the province’s child, youth and family services took the children from their mother, whose mental health was declining.

Katie took in a cousin who had recently got out of jail. That’s when the abuse began, they testified.

Their daughter-in-law started distancing herself from the family.

Then, two days before Christmas, the oldest son, just a teenager, visited his mother’s apartment in Nain.

He walked into her bedroom where he found her body.

“She had a knife in her heart,” said Gordon.

The hurt didn’t end there, the Obeds said.

Silpa testified the youngest, now 14 and still in foster care, messages her on Facebook saying he misses his mom.

“And me and my husband are not there to hold him and say, ‘We love you Kyle.’ They’re so far away from us, and they need hugging and loving from their family who’s home.”

Gordon believes the removal of the children from their mother played a role in the events leading to her death.

“We must let the department of Child, Youth and Family Services know that this don’t help,” he said. “We must let the department of Child, Youth and Family Services know that children, grandparents—grandchildren—is best when they grow up at home.”

Kim Campbell-McLean, of the AnanauKatiget Tumingit Regional Association, told the inquiry she would like to see federal funding for women’s shelters in the communities, so women don’t have to leave in search of safety.

About 25 families and survivors are expected to testify during the two-day hearings in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

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