‘I could have been Serenity’: former Alberta foster child haunted by past in care

Click to play video: 'Death of ‘Serenity’ triggers horrific memories from Alberta man’s childhood'
Death of ‘Serenity’ triggers horrific memories from Alberta man’s childhood
WATCH ABOVE: As Albertans learn more about the tragic death of a four-year-old girl while she was in kinship care, an Edmonton man says he isn't entirely shocked by what happened. Sarah Kraus spoke to the man haunted by his 16 years in government care and asked him what needs to change – Dec 9, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally indicated Serenity died while in kinship care. However, on Oct. 6, 2017, Alberta’s Ministry of Children’s Services clarified that although it was through the kinship care program that she was put in the care of the man and woman now facing charges, they were later given permanent guardianship, meaning Serenity was no longer in kinship care. It was at some point after this development that Serenity died. This story has since been updated to reflect the new information.

Kane Blacque is a successful and happy 40-year-old Edmonton man but you would never guess that knowing how cruel his childhood was.

“My memories as a child – even as a baby – there’s nothing but trauma, chaos and abuse.”

He saw his mother and her boyfriends doing drugs and drinking, throwing things and fighting.

Sometimes, even as a toddler, that chaos spilled over onto him.

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“Social workers had noticed bruises on my arms, or burns – but nothing was ever done.”

But when Blacque was two, his young mother killed his baby sister. Blacque and his little brother were left in her care for 10 days before they became wards of the province of Alberta.

He alleges his foster parents were abusive: mentally, sexually and physically.

“It happened over the dumbest thing,” he recalled. “I took too many cookies in my lunch. Ultimately, I was beaten with a bike chain. I was hit in the chest, right here. There’s a scar. Its been there my entire life.”

At one point, Blacque and his brother were adopted. But even that didn’t last long. The pair were rejected and went back into the system.

Then they were bounced from foster home to foster home.

“When somebody is being kicked out for behavioural issues or lying or acting out or whatever – instead of actually helping them, they just move them. They put them somewhere else in hopes that they can deal with them. They can fix them.”

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Blacque said the whole experience twisted his understanding of love and relationships.

“The most love that I ever felt, the most care that I ever felt – was in my foster home where I was being sexually abused. Because there was no physical abuse, no emotional abuse, no mental abuse.”

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At 18, Blacque aged out of the system but things didn’t get any better.

“Drugs, alcohol, sex, sexual exploitation, prostitution, suicide attempts. That’s what it was like after foster care. It was nothing but hell,” he explained. “I wanted it just to all end. The pain, the past and I was so scared of the future.”

But Blacque’s attempts on his life were unsuccessful and today he has things to be thankful for: a loving partner, a new puppy and a great job.

“My past made me who I am. And I’m quite comfortable and happy with who I am today,” he said. “I have a lot to lose today. Whereas, previous to 37 years of age, I didn’t have anything to lose.”

So when he heard about the death of four-year-old Serenity in the care of the province, it brought back bad memories.

READ MORE: Mother of 4-year-old Alberta girl who died in kinship care speaks out: ‘They completely ignored me’

“I could’ve been Serenity, if I would have stayed any longer with my mother,” he said. “Since I was a kid in care, I’ve noticed no change whatsoever. It’s gotten worse.”

But that doesn’t mean he agrees with those blaming the NDP for the problems, or calling for the resignation of Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir.

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READ MORE: Alberta minister rejects calls for resignation over death of girl in government care

Watch below: Global News’ ongoing coverage of the 2014 death of a four-year-old Alberta girl known only as Serenity. The girl’s death in kinship care has raised questions about how to protect children in government care.

“He took over somebody else’s failures and somebody else’s lack of action,” he said.

Instead, he wants to see the whole system of care for children overhauled.

READ MORE: Alberta government setting up all-party committee to examine child’s death in kinship care

“More policies, more procedures, more training. More care, more compassion, more understanding,” he explained.

Blacque wants social workers and foster parents to be checked better to make sure they’re in it for the right reasons. And he wants them to step in when there’s signs of trouble.

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“In my eyes, when it comes to innocent children in that type of environment, it needs to be taken seriously immediately. Not 10 days later, not when incidents happen and not when it’s too late.”

He said he’s hopeful the province is working to better the system but said they need to be transparent about it.

“Show us your progress, show us what you’re doing. Because the issues being handled right now are not as important as children dying in care and being abused in care and being tossed around in care.”

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