MLA responds to report

It’s tragic that the life of a girl at the heart of an investigative report went unnoticed until after her death, said Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett.

Last week in Victoria, Barnett and other members of the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth met with Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Representative for Children and Youth to discuss Lost in The Shadows: How a Lack of Help Meant a Loss of Hope for One First Nations Girl.

“There’s always someone out there to be a good friend ­– an aunt, a friend’s mother, a counsellor or somebody,” Barnett told the Tribune. “It appears in the report that she trusted no one, she was scared and she was sexually abused... What a terrible thing.”

The report was well done and factual, Barnett said, adding it’s tough to hear the details.

“To think that young people go through this; it doesn’t matter which community people come out of, and to think that young people have these barriers.”

Barnett said the Representative for Children and Youth does a good job in her investigations. This particular report showed that tragedies happen, and they start when doors are closed and there’s no collaboration between people, said Barnett, who is not blaming anyone specifically, but agrees there was a shortage of staffing in the Ministry of Children and Family Development during the time period covered by the report.

“I know because I was working with other constituents,” she said. “Staff were off on maternity leave, stress leave, and I know the ministry did bring a team in to work on all the cases.”

Barnett has had a “very emotional” conversation with the community’s leadership, and said they are committed to moving forward.

“I know we can move ahead if the community wants to,” Barnett said. “Because of this I’m sure there’s much more hurt in the community and they are still suffering from this incident.”

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