Saskatchewan’s children’s advocate said a teenager who died in custody was sick and in pain, but his medical concerns were ignored.
The 16-year-old boy, who had hearing loss, was being held at the Prince Albert Youth Residence in September 2013 when he died of bronchopneumonia and associated sepsis.
Children’s advocate Bob Pringle said the boy’s health deteriorated on an almost hourly basis.
Deputy sheriffs who took the boy to court raised concerns that he was too weak to walk and facility workers noted he was lying in bed, trembling and whimpering.
But Pringle says the facility director was dismissive about the concerns and ignored the boy’s pain.
The report titled “The Silent World of Jordan” found deficiencies within the ministry of justice and corrections.
The child care watchdog used the psyeudonym “Jordan” throughout the report but the family requested the teenager’s real name, Dylan Lachance be used.
It highlighted several instances where the teen was visibly in need of medical attention, but none was provided.
“In our view, Jordan’s growing pains were ignored. His voice was not heard. There were no special support or resources to better understand what he was saying,” Pringle said.
Pringle made 10 recommendations, including implementing clear policies to ensure youth in custody have access to proper health care.
The recommendations also call for the development of a policy to accommodate youths with disabilities.
Another recommendation included training for all facility staff on health issues, which should incorporate critical thinking skills and proper problem-solving when there is a conflict among staff and supervisors.
The justice ministry’s executive director, Drew Wilby, said they have made changes since Lachance’s death three years ago.
The former director was fired without cause and a senior supervisor has left the position.
Wilby also explained the facility has a nurse on staff at Prince Albert Youth Residence and are now employing the use of story boards to aid with language or hearing challenges.
Family friend and spokesperson Arnold Blackstar said Dylan had unique communication styles and that style is known to family and community members.
Blackstar criticized staff from all agencies for failing to include Dylan’s mother, Dinah, in the process.
“At no point, did the Agency Chief Tribal Council, RCMP that was situated on the reserve, Prince Albert Youth Residence, the court services, or the provincial ministry of child services … engage the mother in supporting her child,” Blackstar said.
The family hopes the report acts as a testament to all service workers.
He also added the family wants more culturally appropriate services provided by all service providers.
“Moreso in court services … seeing as most aboriginal youth within the province are recipient of those services,” Blackstar said.
With files from Canadian Press.