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Serenity’s mom vows to sit vigil through Alberta court proceedings

Click to play video: 'Man and woman in court; charged in 4-year-old Serenity case'
Man and woman in court; charged in 4-year-old Serenity case
WATCH ABOVE: The death of a four-year-old girl named Serenity has shone a spotlight on child welfare policies in Alberta. As Sarah Kraus reports, the man and woman facing charges in relation to the girl's death were in court on Monday. WARNING: Graphic and disturbing content – Feb 4, 2019

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story, which was first published Feb. 4, 2019, incorrectly reported that doctors who examined Serenity when she was taken to hospital in 2014 found she had been sexually assaulted. Doctors did not make that determination. Reporting by the Edmonton Journal claimed that staff at the central Alberta hospital where she was first taken noted she had bruises all over her body including her pubic and genital area. The Journal also reported that after she was airlifted to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, doctors there noted bruising on her chest, back, genitals and around her anus. Global News has not been able to independently verify the contents of the medical records obtained by the Edmonton Journal, and no one has been charged with the sexual assault of Serenity.

The mother of a four-year-old girl that died in hospital after being placed in kinship care says she will wait outside the courtroom for the next month, awaiting answers in Serenity’s death.

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“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’ll sit outside that courtroom every day all day long if I have to.”

Serenity died in 2014 after being taken to hospital with a head injury. According to the Edmonton Journal, hospital staff noted she had bruises all over her body, including her pubic and genital area. Global News has not been able to independently verify these claims. A report by Alberta’s Child and Youth Advocate also said doctors noted Serenity had bruises at various stages of healing and was “significantly underweight.”

“I feel like it’s been four and a half years and I’ve been waiting that long.

“To keep having to wait and not know, it’s heart-wrenching. It’s terrifying, scary, sad, everything,” explained the girl’s mother.

No family members in this case can be named to protect the identity of Serenity’s two living siblings, who were in kinship care with her prior to her death.

“My loving, beautiful, wonderful daughter — one of my hugest lessons in life. I hope that her death will be a lesson to everyone that failed her,” Serenity’s mom said.

Serenity and her siblings had been living with family members designated through the kinship care program and later given permanent guardianship. Now those guardians, a man and a woman, are in court in Wetaskiwin for a preliminary inquiry, charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life.

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“Serenity would still be here today if we had more laws implicated for children,” Serenity’s grandmother said.

Guardians of the Children agrees. The motorcycle club is helping Serenity’s family navigate the court process.

“They call us for support. We go to court with them, we give them strength, we sit beside them and make sure that they’re okay,” Clint Goodrich explained. He’s the president of the Wetaskiwin chapter of Guardians of the Children.

READ MORE: Edmonton motorcycle club supporting abused children

The group plans to have two or three members stand vigil with Serenity’s mom for the duration of the preliminary inquiry and the trial that could follow.

“We come for anybody who asks us. All they’ve got to do is call us and we will respond.

“We don’t turn anybody down. If they need our help, we’re there for them, that’s what we do. That’s why we all got together.”

Serenity’s family is hopeful the judge will find there’s enough evidence to proceed to trial later this month.

“It’s surreal, everything we’ve been through as a family,” Serenity’s grandmother said. “It hurts but I’m grateful that we’re standing together as one — not only for Serenity but for other children.”

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