The last time Barbara Suggashie spoke to her daughter she told her she was going to bring her home.
The last time Jeffrey Owen spoke to his daughter he said the same thing.
There never would be a next time.
Neither would return home to Poplar Hill First Nation near the Ontario-Manitoba border.
Both died in different group homes after being taken from their parents.
Suggashie’s daughter Kanina Sue Turtle, 15, died Oct. 29, 2016 in Sioux Lookout, Ont.
Owen’s daughter Amy Owen, 13, died 2,000 km away in Ottawa, Ont.
Suicide is believed to be the cause of death for the little girls who were living in group homes.
“The first time I heard my daughter had passed away,” said Suggashie breaking down in tears. “I didn’t believe it.”
She was told Kanina died from suicide but she doesn’t believe it and keeps demanding answers to this day.
“She wasn’t like that when she was here. When she was at home,” said Suggashie. “She wasn’t cutting herself like that.”
She said her daughter began cutting herself in care and had bounced around from foster care to group homes. One of those homes was in Ottawa – where Jeffrey Owen’s daughter was when she died last month.
Jeffrey Owen said his daughter wasn’t suicidal before being put in a group home.
“All I know is she was on suicide watch,” he said. “How could she have done this if she was under supervision?”
He said Amy wasn’t allowed to make calls home but would do so anyways.
The last time he talked to her was a few weeks before she died.
“She said she wanted to come home. She hates it so much there. She started crying over the phone. I started crying with her and said ‘my girl, don’t worry. Pretty soon you’ll be home with us. Just try to be strong,’” he said. “I told her ‘we love you so much.’”
He said he’s frustrated trying to find answers.
“When they took these children in care they said they were going to keep them safe and they failed to do that,” he said.
Courtney Scott, 16, died in a house fire at her group home in Ottawa on April 21. She was placed in the home but was originally from Fort Albany First Nation. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Suggashie said she last saw her daughter about two weeks before her death when she was taken to the hospital emergency room. She had harmed herself.
“I told her, ‘I’m trying to get you back,’” said Suggashie.
APTN has asked the province for a response to the deaths. There has been no response as of this posting.
42 thoughts on “Three First Nations girls died in Ontario group homes in last 6 months”
I feel awful truly Native American girls are subjected to more abuse and neglect than most at home and unfortunately molestation….I was born on Reservation land in NC and placed I the system many years ago unfortunately because of the shortage of foster care homes willing to take older children I ended up in juvenile detention center and did not have any sort of offense. It was horrible suffered almost the same physical abuse their if not the staff other teens. My solution emancipation not sure if that option in Canda but it is In US. But key is strength/fight I got my GED while working full time and took custody of myself and got my own place. It’s growing up fast and finish college by the time I was 18 and 2 more times since. My will to fight was strong key connect to greater spirit inside and pull strength but I grew up taking martial arts and pulled from my anger it’s a powerful motivation tool for enthusiasm. Too bad theres no mentors like boys and girls support groups..RIP native ladies I wish to be able to encourage our youth to use their inner spirit to help gain strength quitting is never an option….
Littletree telling littlebears stay strong and set goals for themselves always alternatives…
This fears me I’ve had 2 children who are in care since they were born. I need a place for 7 ppl so I can get them back before they get lost in the system, been 4 years and couple months from now I go to court for a last chance order. Please pray for us. I want my babies with me , not lost in the system.
At any level children should have the right to be protected…i know many children who have been taken from homes that didn’t need to be, They are taken away for things that could be remedied if the governments only mandate was not to remove. It is an awesome power to be able to take children away from parents and family and there had better be an awesome accountability when you do that…. don’t take them if you can’t keep them safe, work with the community to keep them safe, you can’t let them go to aunties house because she doesn’t have a fire extinguisher or a spare bedroom? If you take them, you are responsible, totally, for their safety and wellbeing……..
RIP BEAUTIFUL LADIES
I myself grew up in the system and I was abused in every way sexually physically emotionally mentally my mom suffered from addictions and my grandmother was too old to deal with me I went crownward when the cas tricked my mom who can’t read or write to sign papers when she was in rehab by the time I was 13 I had been molested by a Foster brother a Foster sister locked in rooms with shock alarms with a piss pot and bars on my windows starved one lady (Foster mom) fed me baby food and forced me to sleep in a crib and drink from a bottle when I was 12 I seen a lil girl die at 5 yrs old when I was 7 I moved 26 different homes by the time I was 16 and ran away a lot n sent back my life has been a huge horror story at the age of 21 I had a baby and cas took her away saying I could not raise her from the way I was raised yet they raised me I fought and still lost my beautiful angel but one day she will return…. I’m now 30 I was told my whole life I wasn’t able to ever be stable and be something most people I know that I’ve told my life story too don’t understand how I’m still standing strong today after everything I’ve been threw I don’t do drugs I have my own apt and been stable for many many years now and I have a full time job a manager position as well and I have seen many of the people I’ve met along my journey end up commuting suicide or overdosing due to the shit they went threw in care the system is beyond corrupt and it is very sad in 2001 71% of homeless ppl on the streets of Toronto we’re crown wards of the cas and now struggle everyday to survive I myself was one…. Majority of the group homes I lived in have been shut down due to all sorts of abuse and I myself after reading this story do not think it was suicide knowing and being a first hand witness to the abuse that happens and hope these 3 beautiful angels get their justice
My heart and prayers are with all of the parents…..
I personally would have been better off with my mom or a family member then growing up in the system….
I’ve notice that the system takes children these days from good parents and leave children who need to be saved with their parents it is not right at all….
Again REST IN PARADISE…..
It also seems it depends where the abuse happens too. My abuse was in home so that why we ended up in foster care or group home. I wasn’t ever abused there. Like I said some were even native so that helped me believe I could be more and it was possible for me to succeed in life!
I have delt with suicidal ideation and have a brother who is suicidal and you can’t stop people if they want to die! Honestly you want to, but I had to decide myself I didn’t want to die anymore and find reasons to live! I rarely think like that anymore but my brother still does. But he still is confused and not getting help and seeking counselling. Traditional healing, sweat lodge and traditional counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy helped me a lot. I went lots of times to my doctor to ask why I was afraid to leave my home. I sought out help and kept fighting to address my pain and mental torment I started to get better and improve my thinking and negative things in my head. But it was hard, but it’s not impossible, but the person themselves have to want to change. No one can force them. But it’s still my belief that me and my brothers wouldn’t be so messed up if my parents got their lives together. I am sorry but I’m a mom too. And I did everything in my power to better myself and not blame CAS AND POLICE. My parents taught me to hate them, but I refused to. Because they were not the ones hurting me.
Anyways this is my experience. And everyones is different. I had a drive and determination to not be like my parents and never let my kids suffer like I did. I wanted to be a good mom. And I never wanted to do drugs or drink because my family is either dead or in prison because of that!
I will never lose my kids and they’ll never experienced any kind of neglect or abuse for me or any foster home or group home because they ain’t never going there!
Way too much pointing blame and fingers. You know when you point one finger you have three pointing back at you. So we can blame the CAS the government the group homes and for me even my parents. But in the end it’s you only you that can change. If you want to.
Thank you Roxy for sharing. I think that our environments play a crucial role and the stress and trauma we face can effect our lives forever. For me I was always safer in my foster homes. I was sexually abused by my mothers boyfriends when she was too high to know what was going on. I’m also native and she was murdered when I was in high school. People may not like my post, because I think parents need to be accountable but it’s the truth. I am messed up with PTST DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY because of my parents. It my foster parents, social workers or government. Of course people need family and stability and not to be abused no matter where they were. I was fortunate to have always good foster parents, even sometimes I had native foster parents! Anyways, it’s not the system hating on us it’s that there are some bad people out there and kids need to be protected. And while everyone is busy pointing fingers no one is being accountable for why we end up in care anyways!
I think my parents should have raised me but they couldn’t! Not without us being abused or abandoned! And then they would say oh they took you away the Children’s aid is bad. But they are not! They protected me because mine weren’t. I got hit so man damn times my dad almost killed me. So seriously people take a chill pill before you jump to conclusions that I think group homes are better! I’m saying parents and a lot of people are blaming people instead of fixing the problem and evening getting help themselves. I’m not saying it’s everyone’s experience. But it was mine. And stop with the threatening! Something will bite me in my arse? Because I think parents should be accountable? I’m sorry but every time I went to faster care was because of my parents! Once I even got apprehended at an airport because my mom got so high she overdosed there!
I was put in a group home and was always being touched at night by the male workers sometimes during the day as well… I am on suicide watch now as days and still fighting this nightmare I have from being there. I ran away so many times and I always ended back at the same place.
Being in a group home changed my life completely I now have to be watched by family and my spouse I have a high risk in suicide and became bipolar and depressed. I have PTSD and I don’t talk with people I stay locked at home because I have a fear of going back…
I was 15 yrs old when I was in the group home I am now 26 years old and still fighting myself each and every day to stay alive.
People don’t understand that not being with family hurts and can kill people.
I never talk about what happened when I was there I build it up and still do I hide behind closed doors and stay far away from people I barley speak to my family and I don’t have friends.
Everyone care say we make our choices in life but we really don’t, as we grow up people make our choices for us. We get told what yo do when to do it never can go out and hang out make friends only thing I was ever able to do was step outside for 5 minutes with a staff member.
I am Native American and I am in Manitoba, I go threw alot everyday, take meds that make me feel like a robot. I still have bad dreams and I can’t stop thinking not matter how hard I try. I can’t get the help I need cause I’m afraid of the outside world.
Hi roxy! Just read your post and i must say you are incredibly brave for telling your story. Im so sad for you girls that have gone through this and your story will hopefully help others.
Thanks so much for sharing. You are truly a insperation!
Death of a child anywhere is abhorrent. To have truth in a story we must have the whole picture. To be in group homes and foster care there was a problem in their lives already. What caused them to be in care in the first place is 90% of the problem. Also these girls made news because they were in the system- where is the numbers of native children who died in the same time span who were not in the system? I guarantee that number vastly exceeds this one. While I sympathize with the families losses, I am angered also by their lack of taking responsibility for their part in these tragedies.
That entire statement should have been written in capitals……well said…….AMEN
Ministry needs to up the staffing in homes to ensure they can be watched & cared for 24/7. Ratios for group home 1 staff to 3 residents. Only those few who get approved for 1:1 staffing which costs more money. So really what needs to be be fixed ? Houses can hold 10 kids at time depending in a residence. If you have 3 staff 1 kid in crisis it leave 1 staff for watching the rest of the kids. I wouldn’t be passing blame onto the grounds homes rather the ones “ministry” who make the ratio rules
These young people needed some fast help. It was not recognized in the care they were in. My goodness that is such a dark place for a child. I remember that darkness. No child should feel that way.
Prayers for all people that have been affected by this.
Why do they move these kids so far away from what is familiar?
I am heart broken to hear this. And it continues all over North America.
It’s a very sad thing to happen to these girls BUT the heading of it being “Three First Nations girls” means that that is the only reason that it deserves to even be an article. How many other children does it happen to of ANY race? Canadian news makes it abut First Nations, USA makes it about African Americans. Why is it not just about 3 girls?? ANY 3 youths means it should be looked into not just because of race, religion or gender.
Because this is an “aptn” article…And because you will probably NEVER ever hear of 3 white girls dying within the system, and all 3 aboriginal girls dying within 6 months of each other…
There is no mention of the agency whose care they were in… I think that is part of the story that should be included. Was it CAS, Tikinagan, Dilico..?
TIKINAGAN CHILD FAMILY SERVICES.
There is much wrong when the system meant to protect children, harms them.
Sometimes it’s best to let them return and help parents to make adjustments within the home…
It’s too sad that people’s jobs depend on children being in care.
Deepest condolances to those who grieve.
I’m sorry to read what happened to these beautiful people. I was in and out of foster care my whole childhood. But I never blamed my foster parents or the children’s aid society or government for being there. They were always there to help me when my parents either abused me or neglected me. I’m sorry but parents never owned up for their own damn actions and should have been accountable that their actions that resulted in their own children being placed in foster care. I received nothing but love and respect and encouragement for my foster parents. And believe me I had several growing up! I was in and out of the system all across Canada, because my parents were always fleeing either the police or the children’s aid society. For me that was way worse than being in any foster care. Having no home stability and seeing my parents do drugs and force drugs upon me and my siblings was horrible. I’m sorry but I’ve support foster parents and if you don’t, And you want to say that self harm and suitable is because of foster parents I strongly object! I don’t think people self harm because of that. They are hurting for other reasons. Like wishing their parents were good role models so they didn’t feel unloved and confused like why does my parents love drugs more than me! So parents seriously , Be who your children need you to be!
Well I guess that’s great that you had a good experience in the system… Most parents are good parents and yes there are a lot of people who have no business having kids. Understanding and not blaming these parent will come back to bite you in the rear. Some kids want , want want, being so disrespectful, harming themselves because social media and pghones get taken away. If you really want to analyze try looking at the social media outlets, its disgraceful. The crap that everyone is exposed to. My youngest son who is 14, is completely fine when not online, as soon as he gets online, exposing himself to big not so bright ideas, all hell breaks loose. Why? Because I have expectations and rules. Most parents do. And another thing, so many kids have been messed right up in foster care, especially native children, because the government thinks they know best. Its been proven to time and time again, they want all of us to conform to their systematic ways, ASSIMILATION. Research your antics before you lay blame.
I agree! Well said!!
Amen! Well said.
Thanks for this. The support needs to be given to parents to get the help they need. The children need to stay in community and be supported in family homes. The break up of roots when children get taken away from family leads to so much loss, and vulnerability to abuse.. We need to look at a healing way to sort out family problems. The elders who have been shattered by the system can vouch for this.
Brilliantly written you sound like a pillar of strength…..i hear resilience ……your words speak truth
I agree. Thanks for sharing & you are right. Parents have & continue to be significant people in their children’s lives.
Also true it is better to be in a safer place than with irresponsible parents.
deepest condolences to the families of these beautiful young women. I have no words to share. My heart breaks for our youth.
I would like to know why they were in care to begin with if they obviously did not want to leave their homes. Maybe parents receiving treatment? I don’t know. Going from not suicidal to being on suicide watch should’ve been a big red flag, to the homes, that obviously their type of care wasn’t working. How sad.
sorry for your losses, sad and they were such beautiful girls. Dont know why they ship them to very far away places.
My deepest condolences to the families dance in haven
Rip rest easy beautiful girls ❤️ You will be dearly missed
Why were they taken in the first place? Does this happen to non native children? Justice must be done to stop this from happening again!
Amen! Well said.
Exactly…why were they taken? Obviously because there were reasons. Of course all races of children come into foster care to be protected from whatever is happening at home. JUSTICE must look at what is happening to children in their homes to cause them such pain. Foster families can only provide love and comfort and stability, they are not psychiatric therapists, they cannot erase years of abuse.
Well stated …
If we in the US don’t protect ICWA these stories will become our stories.
Reality Check Please
OMG!! WTH is wrong in the four walls of a home that is suppose to takecare & protect these girls. After one dies should have been enough to investigate & make the nessary changes that needed immediate attention. The three young women were daughters, granddaughters, cousins & friends of ppl who loved them. This just sickens me to my core. My deepest condolences to all who love them.
And to the so called youth workers I strongly sugges u pick another carrer that has nothing to do with Aboriginal youth or Aboriginals period!!!! Shame! Shame! Shame!
Unless you are inside with knowledge it is best not to speak …….
So Sad, my condolences to the parents.
I never wanted to live in a group home, or any of the foster homes I was put in.
No matter what the intentions are of the people running the place, or how nice they are, it’s still a place where you don’t want to be.
You may smile, but it’s empty and only out of politeness.
The same smiles are given by Government workers.
What you need is real family. That’s your only escape.
If warning signs are apparent, then it’s the duty of the people around you to try to get family to you.
Ignoring the signs do nothing.
I was lucky. I had a chance to “opt out” of the system.
These young ladies were never given that chance. They had no options.
They were removed from what they needed the most: family.
My heart goes out to everyone involved.
they are putting these young people on psych meds and it messes with their minds!! shame on them!suicidal/homicidal risks …not worth taking
I fully support this wise counsel. No homes even with the best services can replace those who have connected with the young people @ the most significant times of their lives. Taking them so far away from families only add to the hopelessness they feel about their separation & issues they may be dealing with. Families and friends close to any person experiencing deep emotional psychological challenges IS a Priority.
I feel for these families and the girls who have died.
Condolences to all the families.
All these teenagers that are taken from their homes and pkaced so far away so that the parents can’t come and see them are put there for that reason these group homes are no different from the residential schools. They are being used and abused and the people running these group homes knowes how to cover up everything. The chiefs from our first nations should do everything in there power. To keep our. Troubled teenagers within our first nation so we can helpe them thats the way i see it
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