The province’s Children Services ministry is investigating after a youth in care from Samson Cree Nation died on Jan. 11.
The 16-year-old boy was in government care in the Rocky Mountain House area and was reported missing late in the evening on Jan. 10, only to be found hours later outside, deceased, just after midnight on Jan. 11.
It has been reported by multiple sources that the youth was from Samson Cree Nation.
Children Services minister Rebecca Schulz issued a written statement respecting the incident.
“The death of any young person is heartbreaking and I am incredibly disturbed by this incident. This young person was in the care of a Delegated First Nations Agency and I am committed to ensuring that the policies in place to support vulnerable youth are followed,” the statement reads.
“If changes are needed, we will make them. My department will fully review this death and support any other reviews, which will be made public.”
Alberta Child Services’ website reported a death of a 16-year-old on Jan. 11, 2020.
According to the site, any time a child dies, is injured or experiences a substantiated incident, while they are either in care or during intake, it is reported publicly and “rigorously” investigated.
“Albertans have a right to know when a death, serious injury or substantiated incident occurs for a child, youth or young adult receiving services,” states the site.
From April 1 to Dec. 31, 2019, there were 15 deaths of children aged 0 to 17 in care in Alberta.
Cpl. Laurel Scott of RCMP K Division media relations confirmed to Ponoka News that RCMP responded to a missing persons report in Rocky Mountain House in the evening of Jan. 10.
The police dog services unit was engaged to help search around town for the youth, and he was located deceased just after midnight, says Scott.
The incident is not being investigated as a criminal death. It is unknown at this time if the cold temperature (somewhere between -29 C and -36 C according to theweathernetwork.com) was a factor in the death.
The cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and Children’s Services will make those results public.
A funeral was held on Jan. 16.
Note: Samson Cree Nation Chief Vernon Saddleback was contacted, but has been unavailable for comment.