Three years after a little girl named Serenity died of horrific injuries, Alberta’s justice minister has confirmed that a fatality inquiry has been ordered in the case.
The inquiry, led by the chief medical examiner’s office, will only be held after the criminal investigation has been concluded, and any related charges have been fully resolved in the courts, Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said Friday in a statement to CBC News.
“We know that this has been a long time to wait for the family, who have suffered such a heartbreaking loss,” Ganley said.
“The RCMP and Crown prosecutors are working together to ensure they have thoroughly reviewed and considered all the evidence. I am confident the professionals working on this investigation are doing everything they can to move this case forward.”
RCMP declined this week to comment on the progress of their “active” investigation.
For her part, Serenity’s mother said she hopes the tragedy will lead to new protections for the province’s most vulnerable children.
Her four-year-old daughter lived with relatives in a kinship care placement on a central-Alberta reserve. Despite repeated reports of abuse, full legal guardianship of Serenity and her two siblings had been awarded to her kinship caregivers, before she was admitted to hospital in September 2014.
She was suffering from catastrophic injuries, including a fractured skull and starvation. She died four days later, on Sept. 27, 2014.
Serenity’s caregivers said at the time she had fallen from a tire swing. But a forensic pediatrician determined her injuries were inconsistent with a fall.
Three years after she got the call that her daughter was dying in an Edmonton hospital, Serenity’s mother remains haunted by memories, and continues to fight for justice.
“I want her story to achieve better service in the social worker system,” said the mother, who cannot be named under child protection laws. “There should be much more safety protocol within the system, and I want Serenity to change that.
“That’s how I want her to be remembered. She deserves justice.”
A private member’s bill introduced last fall by Calgary MLA Mike Ellis would have required adults to report to police any child who needs intervention, under the threat of six months in jail or a $10,000 fine.
The bill never came up for debate.