Prescott group home owner: Amy Owen didn’t die in our care

Kenneth Jackson
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.

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11 thoughts on “Prescott group home owner: Amy Owen didn’t die in our care

  1. Prescott was a great place to live I enjoyed all the staff they were like big sisters to us and Esther was very supportive ad she does have a big heart. Must have been something that traumatized her before that she couldn’t get out of her head and suicide was her only option sad but the human brain is complicated

    1. No. You’re missing the point. It doesn’t matter what problems or health issues this child had before or after being sent to Prescott. This little girl’s care was entrusted to so-called professionals and they obviously failed to care for her properly. She was on 24 hour suicide watch for crying out loud. You’re trying to cover up and excuse the group home staff or whomever was charged with Amy’s welfare and that’s despicable. They had a responsibility and they failed to uphold their duty to keep Amy safe. Her death is a direct result of their failure to do their jobs.

      1. Exactly!!….if it’s so simple as nothing can be done for these kids then why take them at all!?…its pathetic lame excuses for another form of colonialized abuse! Once again they think they know what’s best for people they know nothing about on a real level.

  2. the father had no idea she was moved? so he never called or spoke to her on the phone or facebook for two months??? What happened is tragic, Condolences to the family and friends and to her Prescott home of family and friends.

  3. So sad. When will the Child Care System realize that there is no place like home and help the families instead of taking out the child out of the community? there should be other alternatives- grandmothers, etc in FN communities. Girls who were self harming (suicidal) were also threatened to be apprehended instead of helping the family. The child was viewed as the ‘problem’ and no holistic approach provided. What message do these poor youth get? it is a damn if you and damn if you do not. They think now it is not safe anywhere. And they might be right.Girls knew each other who were harming themselves. Child was not that bad- just using ‘survival technique’

    1. Having worked in native child welfare for 17 years I came to understand that no matter how much culturally appropriate intervention that is provided, no matter if a really troubled child is place in her/his home community, with grandparents, a favorite aunt, or sometimes kept with his/her own family, if that child is so determined to kill him/herself she/he will find a way to do so. The sad reality is some children want to die for whatever reason. It is traumatic for everyone especially her/his immediate family and as shown in the above story the inability to successfully help will haunt the child’s workers and helpers for a very very long time. We must ask ourselves what is so intolerable in a youth’s life that makes ending life appear to be the only solution?

      1. Your comment is disturbing, especially given that it comes from someone claiming to have worked within “native child welfare” for so long. It illustrates very clearly the callousness and the ignorance among those who work for the child apprehension industry. Here you are basically saying this child was going to die no matter what and it’s no one’s fault, and oh those poor social workers are going to feel bad now. Your mentality is vile to say the least. The child welfare system obviously failed this child, as did the people working within it, and they bear ALL the responsibility for Amy Owen’s death. All this little girl wanted was to go home, to be with her family; she was starved for affection and connection to her family and community. And there were several cries for help, several warnings, all of which were ignored by her so-called caregivers and workers. And now this poor child is dead because of their negligence.

  4. the Prescott Group Home always provided supervision for residents in their care. I know that the owner would have been personally heartbroken for any injury or harm to the girls in her care. She did care for each one as her own daughter.
    So sad for this young girl and her family.

  5. So sad, this is the biggest failure in the Chikd Welfare System. There is lack of communication and absolutely no networking with other agencies until something drastic occurs.

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