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Fatality report doesn’t mention Alberta teen was ward of the province
EDMONTON – A fatality inquiry report into the death of an aboriginal teen makes no mention of the fact that he was a runaway ward of the province, and provides no recommendations to prevent similar deaths in future.
Edwin Fenton Cattleman was 16 when he got drunk and high at a house party in Maskwacis, then fell down a set of stairs attached to an outside deck and died from severe head trauma.
Provincial court Judge Gordon Yake said RCMP initially believed the death was suspicious and conducted an investigation, but they concluded Cattleman died by accident.
“In light of the circumstances of the death of the deceased, I have no recommendations,” Yake wrote.
The report was issued nearly four years after Cattleman’s death on May 24, 2011.
An internal government report obtained by the Journal shows Cattleman had been in and out of care since he was one year old, and had 35 legal statuses and 20 different placements since birth
He had been subject to a permanent guardianship order for 10 years, which means the province had been acting as his parent for most of his life.
Akamkisipatinaw Ohpikihawasowin Child and Family Services had placed him with his grandmother, but he ran away from home about a week before he died.
Interim Liberal leader David Swann said the judge’s failure to acknowledge the province’s direct involvement in the child’s life and the systemic failures that led to his death is “unacceptable,” and reveals serious flaws in the province’s child death investigation system.
“I would call that incompetent,” Swann said. “This is not a legitimate review process.
“The whole fatality review inquiry process needs to be examined, and at the very least we need to understand what value they add, and what expertise is really needed to do an examination of causes and solutions.”
Swann also said four years is too long to wait for a fatality inquiry report, calling the delay “another black mark.”
The judge’s report also makes no mention of the circumstances under which Cattleman was discovered. The internal report does.
“Once RCMP responded, they located a lone male with severe head injury,” the internal report says. “There was no one else in the home.”
He died alone.