A native family services agency is reviewing its records to determine whether it played a part in placing 7-year-old Katelynn Sampson in the care of the woman now charged in her slaying.
"I'm still beginning my own review of my agency with respect to what our relationship was with this family and what the nature of our services were," Kenn Richard, executive director of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, said yesterday. "(I need) a chance to convene my people, look at the electronic database at the agency and just have a sense of if we've had activity and to what extent."
Katelynn was found dead in an apartment in the Queen St. W. and Lansdowne Ave. area early Sunday, shortly after her legal guardian Donna Irving, 29, called 911 and claimed the little girl had stopped breathing while choking on food.
Irving was arrested and charged with second-degree murder after Toronto EMS arrived and saw signs of trauma on the victim's body that contradicted the story.
Homicide Det. Sgt. Steve Ryan said Irving had been granted sole custody of Katelynn through family court in January of this year, although he was still trying to confirm how and why. He said Irving has a criminal record that involves "some violence."
Richard said his agency, which provides support services to native families and works toward placing native children in "culturally appropriate" adoptive homes, is committed to finding out what happened.
"We received this information with profound sadness and we'll do what we can at our agency to be as transparent as possible with respect to our involvement and to see what we can learn from something like this," Richard said. "This is not our typical experience at Native Child, so I'm basically asking for some patience. Let me absorb this and have a look at the situation and whatever. It's a terrible day for us."
At a vigil last night outside the apartment building where Katelynn was killed, the girl's mother, Bernice Sampson, knelt before a makeshift shrine. Her face glowing in the candlelight, Sampson was surrounded by dozens of friends and neighbours.
"Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world," the crowd sang. "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight ..."
Earlier in the day, Sampson was visibly distraught when Irving appeared in a packed courtroom at Old City Hall, where she was remanded into custody until Aug. 15, when a bail hearing date will be set.
Friend J.R. Junior said Katelynn had been living with Irving, her boyfriend Warren Johnson and their two younger boys, while Bernice Sampson sorted out her life and some "personal problems."
The other two children are with Johnson, whom police said is co-operating and is not a suspect.
"Donna was an all-right person. I don't know what happened," said Junior.
"Donna really wanted a girl. She loved Katelynn – or so she said – and now she is gone," Junior said.
She added that it was "upsetting" that Sampson had chosen Irving as a guardian even though she had many other friends.
Ryan had said that Irving had two other children but was unable to confirm reports he had received independently that they had been taken away children's aid officials.
A neighbourhood resident who works at a coffee shop at Queen St. W. and O'Hara Ave., around the corner from Bernice Sampson's basement apartment and not too far from Irving's apartment on West Lodge Ave., said her daughter was in the same Grade 2 class as Katelynn at Parkdale Public.
"Since January I didn't see (Katelynn)," said the woman, who did not want to give her name.
"My daughter said she had lots of homework."
Toronto District School Board spokesperson Kelly Baker said she could not release information from Katelynn's student record, but did confirm the girl was registered as a student at the elementary school as of the end of this academic year.
Olivia Pratt, 7, brought a picture she had drawn to the apartment building where Katelynn was killed and placed it below her second-floor balcony amongst the flowers and stuffed animals that other mourners had left there.
She said Katelynn had taught her "how to do the double cross" with a skipping rope.
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
Supposedly, the Province of Ontario, is "toughening up the child custody
Chris Bently can start from the top down, the first thing is to make sure that the law is applied equally, that absent evidence of child protection concerns that there is a presumption that children deserve equal parenting.
Now, Bently starts with a law riddled in bias, extreme prejudice that is 99% generally why father's cant have a relationship, or why mother's should be able to have a legal advantage akin to the taliban's control over women.
Every fourth child born in Ontario has a father on the birth certificate, who does not exist or who is not the father. Yet, no DNA tests are required to name a child on a birth certificate, children apparently don't deserve to know who their father is.
Bently should then ensure that we have a Judicial Police, to make sure that the Judges of the Province are held accountable. Presently, many engage in pure fabrication of evidence and or flagrantly abuse their power to leave a trial of destroyed lives.
Women can gain custody, abuse children with impunity and if a man makes the slightest protest he runs a real risk of having draconian orders for child support on income that never existed and being treated like a dangerous offender.
Ontario Law is a war on men, its an abuse of the principles of law to the point that Justice in Ontario is less than that of justice in some of the worst third world countries.
Thanks Mr. Bently.