APTN National News
The owner of a group home in Prescott, Ont. where a First Nations girl was said to have died by suicide while in their care last month says the 13-year-old girl had been transferred a few months prior to another home in Ottawa.
Amy Owen, of Poplar Hill First Nation, died April 17 and it’s been reported by media, including APTN National News, that she was in a Prescott group home at the time of her death based on information from her family.
“I cared for Amy like she was my own daughter,” said an emotional Esther Aiken, owner of Beacon Home. “It’s not us.”
Aiken said Owen was moved from her home Jan. 8 because she kept threatening to run on nearby railway tracks to kill herself.
“I had to get her away from those railway tracks,” said Aiken.
When she heard Owen had died her heart sunk, she said.
“I thought, ‘Oh my god. I made the wrong decision. I made the wrong choice,’” she said Wednesday breaking down in tears. “The poor kid. The poor family.”
Owens father, Jeffrey Owen, told APTN and other media that his daughter was in a Prescott group home when she died.
When reached on Wednesday in Poplar Hill, a First Nation on the Ontario/Manitoba border about 2,000 km from Ottawa, Jeffrey Owen was surprised.
He had thought all this time his daughter died in a different city.
“That’s news to me,” he said. “There’s no communication whatsoever.”
When his daughter was in the Prescott home she was under 24-hour care, with one-on-one supervision, meaning a staff member was with her at all times said Aikens.
Aikens said at night it was the hardest and Owen would try to self-harm or take off for the railway tracks.
“That is when she wanted to run,” said Aikens.
A staff member would be outside her door through the night.
She doesn’t know if the 24-hour supervision was lifted after Owen was transferred, but Jeffrey Owen said he was told it wasn’t and questions how his daughter was able to die by suicide.
Owen was one of three First Nations girls that died while living in Ontario group homes in the last six months.
Courtney Scott, 16, of Fort Albany First Nation, also died in Ottawa on April 21 after a fire in her group home in the Orleans suburb of the city.
Kanina Sue Turtle, 15, also of Poplar Hill First Nation, died in late October 2016 while living in a group home in Sioux Lookout. Her family said they were told it was death by suicide, as well.