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Manitoba’s families minister calls for review of boy’s death after caregivers charged

Manitoba Family Minister Rochelle Squires has ordered a review into the 2018 death of a three-year-old boy in Little Grand Rapids. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Manitoba’s family minister has ordered a review into the death of a three-year-old boy in a remote fly-in First Nations community nearly three years ago.

Rochelle Squires said the review gives the director of child and family services the authority to fully look at what happened to the child leading up to his death in Little Grand Rapids in 2018.

Read more: Manitoba RCMP lay charges in 2018 death of little boy in Little Grand Rapids

“It’s absolutely tragic what happened to this child,” Squires said Wednesday.

RCMP were called about an unresponsive child who had been brought to the nursing station and was later pronounced dead.

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This week, RCMP charged 21-year-old Alayna Flett and 24-year-old Houston Bushie with failing to provide the necessaries of life.

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Mounties said the two were temporary guardians of the boy.

Squires said there are a lot of unanswered questions about what happened. The review’s findings will not be made public, she added.

Read more: RCMP investigating death of 3-year-old child in Little Grand Rapids

Squires also recommitted to fulfilling all the recommendations included in a public inquiry into the death of five-year-old Phoenix Sinclair. The Indigenous girl had spent time in foster care before she was abused and killed by her mother and stepfather in 2005.

The inquiry’s final report, which was given to the government in 2013, included 62 recommendations.

A report by Manitoba’s children’s advocate released earlier this month found just over half of those recommendations had been completed.

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The advocate’s report also looked at the deaths of 19 young children due to maltreatment between 2008 and 2020. It found holes in oversight and a lack of support from child welfare.

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Forty-two per cent of the children who died were First Nations and two were Metis.

There are almost 10,000 children in care in Manitoba and 90 per cent are Indigenous.

Squires said the boy’s death in Little Grand Rapids has caused significant grieving for his family and the entire community.

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In a separate incident, Mounties said Thursday a man had been charged with second-degree murder for the death of a 10-month-old girl in Manitoba last summer.

RCMP in Flin Flon, a city on the border between Manitoba and Saskatchewan, were called about an infant in distress on Aug. 11, 2020.

Read more: Manitoba advocate releases systemic review of services for children with disabilities

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RCMP said they received more information in January that indicated the infant’s injuries were not an accident.

Robert Alexander Bear, 25, from Sandy Bay, Sask., was arrested on Tuesday.

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