More than a dozen people marched to the office of Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux on Friday, hoping to draw attention to the recent deaths of a number of children in government care.
What they did not expect was some face-to-face time with the minister herself.
The mother of Nick Lang, who died just six days after he entered a government-funded drug rehab facility in 2015, was at the march and confronted the minister.
“You have never said my son’s name once,” Linda Tenpas told Cadieux outside her office. “You or the ministry has never apologized to me or my ex-husband for my son’s death.”
“Privacy’s a smoke screen,” Tenpas replied.
“No, it’s actually a law,” Cadieux rebutted.
Cadieux then said she had to move on to another appointment. She apologized again to Tenpas and the two shook hands.
Nick Lang was 15 when he took his own life in 2015. He was addicted to meth and placed with a family in Campbell River while he attended a treatment program for drug addiction that was paid for by the ministry.
The family says their son was not properly supervised while he was in care, but his host family says they were never informed that Lang needed constant supervision. He died after being in care for six days.
Demonstrators at the march were calling on the premier to order an audit of the ministry. They want more accountability on the part of government, not only in responding to tragedies but also in taking action to prevent future deaths.
–With files from Rumina Daya and Amy Judd