Watchdog says it's a miracle abused girl branded 'evil child' survived

VICTORIA – British Columbia’s children’s watchdog says a girl who was nearly starved to death endured 18 months of horrific abuse after being branded an “evil child” at her grandfather’s home in Saskatchewan.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond made the comments Tuesday as she released a report examining the tragic treatment of a three and a half year old aboriginal girl who was moved from B.C. to Saskatchewan, where her mistreatment continued.

Turpel-Lafond said policies and standards for placing vulnerable children in homes across Canada must undergo reviews to better support the needs of kids and families.

The girl was confined to the basement of her grandfather’s home, Turpel-Lafond said.

“This child’s best interests were never taken seriously, and as a result she was left in a dangerous situation, severely traumatized and emotionally and physically injured.”

The girl’s grandfather and spouse were sentenced to three years in prison in 2012 for failing to provide the necessities of life for the child, who is currently living in foster care in Saskatchewan.

Turpel-lafond’s report said the Children’s Ministry in B.C. supported sending the child to another province without doing a proper background check on her grandfather, who had a criminal record for abuse and suffered from addictions.

She said it’s a miracle the girl, who now is eight years old, survived her mistreatment.

Turpel-Lafond said that while her authority does not extend beyond B.C., much work needs to be done with regards to monitoring child protection in Saskatchewan.

Her report also urged the federal government to consider assuming an active role in the well-being of aboriginal children under the care of provincial and territorial governments.

The girl, who can’t be named, weighed just 26 pounds when she was removed from her grandfather’s home in the Fort Qu’Appelle area, east of Regina, in 2008.

Her grandfather won custody from her drug-addicted mother in 2007 and took her to Saskatchewan.

During the trial of her grandfather and his spouse, court heard the girl was kept on a cement floor in a windowless room. The couple argued she was nearly starved because they didn’t get enough government aid to feed her.

The girl also had a broken collarbone, but there was no evidence she saw a doctor.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.