How the system failed Amy Owen

Amy Owen had been sent to hospital seven times for suicidal ideation and self-harming in the six months before she took her own life in an Ottawa group home last April.

Investigative Reporter

Kenneth Jackson is an investigative reporter in Ottawa, Ont. with more than two decades in the business. He got his start in community newspapers before joining the Ottawa Sun in 2007 where he worked the police beat. In 2011, Jackson joined APTN to break the Bruce Carson scandal. The former senior aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried using his contacts in the federal government to sign water deals with First Nations. The RCMP would charge Carson with influence peddling based on APTN’s reporting. The case would make it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which upheld his conviction in 2018. In recent years, Jackson has focused, almost exclusively, on the child welfare system in Ontario. The work has earned multiple awards, including the 2020 Michener Award.

12 thoughts on “How the system failed Amy Owen

  1. For those also being triggered by this story: First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line
    1-855-242-3310

  2. For those also being triggered by this story: First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line
    1-855-242-3310

  3. creator has her by his side now, she is safe, my heart is heavy, i know this experience, my daughter has been in the system except in saskatchewan, while in care she too cut, and the ministry documented this and moved her around, and turned the other cheek, and all my girl wanted was to be home, my daughter did finally come home, and all that sadness of feeling lost and alone are behind her. I strongly believe if this beautiful girl was returned home she would still be breathing our air, MAY SHE REST IN PEACE NOW, And i prey her family can continue and heal from this. 🙁

  4. Being sent away from the hospital after how many incidents? There looking at lack of supervision. Mental Health, doctors, etc the health care system like what part did they play? Just like I thought ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! So who is responsible? Sending Amy back to the group home after many attempts is just stupidity and ignorant should of been hospitalized assesed properly and kept till stable enough to cope an all supports were in place.

  5. creator has her by his side now, she is safe, my heart is heavy, i know this experience, my daughter has been in the system except in saskatchewan, while in care she too cut, and the ministry documented this and moved her around, and turned the other cheek, and all my girl wanted was to be home, my daughter did finally come home, and all that sadness of feeling lost and alone are behind her. I strongly believe if this beautiful girl was returned home she would still be breathing our air, MAY SHE REST IN PEACE NOW, And i prey her family can continue and heal from this. 🙁

  6. Being sent away from the hospital after how many incidents? There looking at lack of supervision. Mental Health, doctors, etc the health care system like what part did they play? Just like I thought ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! So who is responsible? Sending Amy back to the group home after many attempts is just stupidity and ignorant should of been hospitalized assesed properly and kept till stable enough to cope an all supports were in place.

  7. In my opinion this young girl should have been hospitalized, not sent to a group home. Group homes have really troubled kids there and most times kids don’t get better they get worst than they were before.

    And as for parents of First Nations saying all their child wanted was to go home and be with their family. I am giving my thoughts here as a past foster parent and a group home worker. It has been my experience that when these kids are settled with a foster family where they feel a part of the family and feel safe they are allowed visits with their parents who just confuse them more. I had 2 kids for 7 years and they would have visits with their mom who was a drug addict and always changed her men like she changed her under pants. She would tell the kids not to listen and how to use the system. If I would have had no interference from CFS and family visits the kids would have been far better off because they were stable. Because of the interference with the mother and Government policy these kids were failed by the system. These kids had no boundaries in their true family life and when they are sent back and forth when they are so young it confuses their little minds. Today it breaks my heart because the little boy I cared for and loved as my own is living in and out of prison and is in a gang. That started in the group home he was in. Prison just hardens them even more and they become even more corrupt. Sad but very true.

    The girl was older and when she was 15 she wanted to run the roads because they have no boundaries, no responsibilities and they learn this from their past home envierment, so it is very hard for these kids because they go home for a visit and they do what they want. Go to bed when they feel like it and so on.

    The best thing the Government can do is allow the First Nations to run their agency the way they see fit and not interfere with Government policies because the white mans way of life just does not work. First Nations have their own agencies but it is still ran the same as government runs the province so obviously the system is failing these kids big time. Let First Nations handle these kids themselves then they can’t point the finger and blame anyone else for the problems that arise.

    Kids need to be structured and have responsibilities so they know how to take care of themselves when they become adults. Parents of First Nations seem to want their cake and eat it too. I am of mixed blood and many white people lump Meits and First Nations together and that is wrong. Our culture is not the same as First Nations. We love the fiddle and Red River Jig. Granted some Metis do follow the First Nation way and culture and that I believe some Metis have more native blood in them so they lean toward the Indian culture.

    My words come from experience and the problem lies with the reserves. They just like our own Government need to be held more accountable for their actions and how they spend their dollars. I know there is poverty on the reserve and the life of many there is sad. People think they get everything for nothing when in fact that isn’t true. But this is where accountibility comes in.

    To make a long story short this young girl died because of Government policies that don’t work for First Nations people and probably was ignored because of racisim. I would bet my last dollar on that. I may not be a popular person for expressing my experience and opinion but I am a person who speaks the truth as I see it.

    1. Wow. This post speaks so clearly to the importance of cultural identity and cultural safety in child wellbeing (now the preferred term as relates to child welfare in First Nation communities or child wellfare as I would say as a Metis). Take the last paragraph for instance which I believe can be tied to the difficulty in Amy getting into a top notch psychiatric bed which incidentally she was entitled to be in by way of Treaty:

      “I would bet my last dollar on that… I am a person who speaks the truth as I see it”. Said like a true Metis. Two world views colliding in a single creative moment. The colonial and the Indigenous give rise to the Aboriginal but not by too much or too little “blood” as the poster suggest by by differences in values, traditions and customs. Alma, it is not our love for the fiddle and the Red River jig that makes us Metis, unique from our First Nation relations and you just proved that although you may not see it yet. A wise person once said that we as Indigenous people live in a society where the abnormal has become normal. I ask this, since when did running in a “gang” become just a First Nation thing? The lust for power through affiliation and force is actually a colonial thing is it not? As you say, (but this time I will say it with less Indian blood than you) I would bet my bottom dollar on that. (Note the correct usage of English on that).

      Merci for this teaching today.

  8. In my opinion this young girl should have been hospitalized, not sent to a group home. Group homes have really troubled kids there and most times kids don’t get better they get worst than they were before.

    And as for parents of First Nations saying all their child wanted was to go home and be with their family. I am giving my thoughts here as a past foster parent and a group home worker. It has been my experience that when these kids are settled with a foster family where they feel a part of the family and feel safe they are allowed visits with their parents who just confuse them more. I had 2 kids for 7 years and they would have visits with their mom who was a drug addict and always changed her men like she changed her under pants. She would tell the kids not to listen and how to use the system. If I would have had no interference from CFS and family visits the kids would have been far better off because they were stable. Because of the interference with the mother and Government policy these kids were failed by the system. These kids had no boundaries in their true family life and when they are sent back and forth when they are so young it confuses their little minds. Today it breaks my heart because the little boy I cared for and loved as my own is living in and out of prison and is in a gang. That started in the group home he was in. Prison just hardens them even more and they become even more corrupt. Sad but very true.

    The girl was older and when she was 15 she wanted to run the roads because they have no boundaries, no responsibilities and they learn this from their past home envierment, so it is very hard for these kids because they go home for a visit and they do what they want. Go to bed when they feel like it and so on.

    The best thing the Government can do is allow the First Nations to run their agency the way they see fit and not interfere with Government policies because the white mans way of life just does not work. First Nations have their own agencies but it is still ran the same as government runs the province so obviously the system is failing these kids big time. Let First Nations handle these kids themselves then they can’t point the finger and blame anyone else for the problems that arise.

    Kids need to be structured and have responsibilities so they know how to take care of themselves when they become adults. Parents of First Nations seem to want their cake and eat it too. I am of mixed blood and many white people lump Meits and First Nations together and that is wrong. Our culture is not the same as First Nations. We love the fiddle and Red River Jig. Granted some Metis do follow the First Nation way and culture and that I believe some Metis have more native blood in them so they lean toward the Indian culture.

    My words come from experience and the problem lies with the reserves. They just like our own Government need to be held more accountable for their actions and how they spend their dollars. I know there is poverty on the reserve and the life of many there is sad. People think they get everything for nothing when in fact that isn’t true. But this is where accountibility comes in.

    To make a long story short this young girl died because of Government policies that don’t work for First Nations people and probably was ignored because of racisim. I would bet my last dollar on that. I may not be a popular person for expressing my experience and opinion but I am a person who speaks the truth as I see it.

    1. Wow. This post speaks so clearly to the importance of cultural identity and cultural safety in child wellbeing (now the preferred term as relates to child welfare in First Nation communities or child wellfare as I would say as a Metis). Take the last paragraph for instance which I believe can be tied to the difficulty in Amy getting into a top notch psychiatric bed which incidentally she was entitled to be in by way of Treaty:

      “I would bet my last dollar on that… I am a person who speaks the truth as I see it”. Said like a true Metis. Two world views colliding in a single creative moment. The colonial and the Indigenous give rise to the Aboriginal but not by too much or too little “blood” as the poster suggest by by differences in values, traditions and customs. Alma, it is not our love for the fiddle and the Red River jig that makes us Metis, unique from our First Nation relations and you just proved that although you may not see it yet. A wise person once said that we as Indigenous people live in a society where the abnormal has become normal. I ask this, since when did running in a “gang” become just a First Nation thing? The lust for power through affiliation and force is actually a colonial thing is it not? As you say, (but this time I will say it with less Indian blood than you) I would bet my bottom dollar on that. (Note the correct usage of English on that).

      Merci for this teaching today.

Comments are closed.