As the family of Kanina Sue Turtle continues to struggle for answers about how their daughter was able to film her own suicide in a Sioux Lookout foster home the minister responsible for child welfare in Ontario says they could always give him a call.
Children and Youth Services Minister Michael Coteau was asked in Ontario’s Queens Park Monday morning if he was going to let Turtle’s family know what happened, as they say they’ve been kept in the dark for over 16 months.
“She was a very troubled youth. She was left alone and she took her own life,” said Monique Taylor, NDP MP and critic of children and youth services, during question period.
“Will the minister tell this family what happened to their daughter?”
Coteau had this to say in response: “Of course any family that wants to connect with the ministry, and with me, to talk about any issue in regards to their children, I’m always available.”
Turtle’s mother Barbara Suggashie lives in Poplar Hill First Nation near the Ontario/Manitoba boarder. It’s a world away from Queens Park in Toronto.
In a follow-up interview with Taylor she slammed Coteau for the comments.
“I think it’s shameful that it was like a one-off, ‘well just give me a call’. No, minister it’s time to get serious,” said Taylor.
Watch the full exchange at Queens Park Monday:
Suggashie has told APTN News she just wants answers as how her daughter was able to film her own suicide when she was suicidal and visited the hospital at least two times for self-harming within nine days of her death on Oct. 29, 2016.
Turtle also tried to kill herself the day before death and filmed that too.
APTN first reported the video last week after viewing it through the family’s lawyer Marco Frangione.
The video shows it takes about 45 minutes before a foster care worker comes to check on Turtle.
“Without question, the video was the most horrific thing I have ever seen in my life and career,” said Frangione. “My take on the video is that it really is the visual embodiment of how our system is broken, particularly as it relates to Aboriginal children in care.”
Suggashie said Tikinagan Child and Family Services never told her how Turtle was left alone to kill herself when it first happened or that there was a video that was filmed on Turtle’s iPod.
“Tik didn’t tell me anything at all,” she said.
Suggashie said she didn’t find out about the video until months later when she said police returned Turtle’s belongings, including the iPod, last summer. Turtle’s father told APTN police said they were unable to access the device but advised the family of the video’s existence. The family later determined the device’s passcode and saw the video.
Turtle is seen propping up her iPod as the video begins and she hangs herself. She doesn’t say a word.
It happens quickly and then nothing until a worker abruptly comes through the door to check on her. A baby is heard crying in another room.
The unidentified female worker realizes the iPod is recording at about the 50-minute mark of the video as she is on the phone with 911.
Tikinagan has refused to answer questions citing privacy for the family.
Coteau’s office has also declined to offer any answers as to what happened, including any ramifications for the foster home as a result of the death.