By Red Power Media, Staff
The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs is demanding police investigate the government agencies whose alleged inaction led to the overdose death of an aboriginal teenager in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES).
Union President Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says workers in health care, education, policing and community agencies may have broken the law by repeatedly failing to report that Paige needed protection.
Provincial legislation states that failure to inform the government of a child needing protection is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and six months in jail.
Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer says that an investigation into Paige’s death is necessary and that it should be conducted at arm’s length by the RCMP.
Paige was born to a 16-year-old mother in Kamloops.
At 16, Paige and her mother moved to Vancouver’s DTES. At that point, the total amount of moves her mother made was around 84. Paige would go on to move an additional 50 times before her death.
Paige died of a drug overdose in a public washroom near Oppenheimer Park in the DTES at 19-years-old. Her mother died 18-months later.
A report released earlier this year by B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth slammed the province.
In the lengthy report documenting Paige’s plight, a critic says apathy, incomplete reports and inaction from ministry workers were significant contributors to her continual homelessness and eventual death.
The Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafonde submitted a 50-page report “Paige’s Story: Abuse, Indifference and a Young Life Discarded,” to the legislative assembly of B.C. and hopes staff working in several ministry agencies will use it to change approaches towards children, particularly aboriginal children, navigating the system designed to protect them.
Paige’s story reveals the massive gap between understanding of the effects of trauma and the systems at the front line — the social workers, police, school staff and health care providers. Professional standards of care were not upheld in how Paige was treated, the report says.
The report raises intense concerns about the professional judgment of those in the system. Paige’s suffering is detailed in the report and it will sicken every reader to know that this happened in Vancouver’s DTES, under the watchful lens of a social services system that should have done better.