14-year-old Stellayna Severight was found dead of an overdose despite being under the protection of the Saskatchewan Department of Social Services.
Three months after a 14-year-old girl died of an overdose in Regina, Saskatchewan, her mother and a social worker are still searching for answers and can't understand why Social Services took so long to save her.
On May 30, Stellayna Severight, a 14-year-old Indigenous woman, was found dead in Regina following an overdose. Yet a month earlier, social worker Bonnie Ford had raised concerns about the teenager with the Saskatchewan Department of Social Services.
Today, like the latter's mother, still inconsolable, Bonnie Ford keeps asking herself: why has nothing been done?
One year and a half before her death, Stellayna Severight had been in the care of the province. The decision stemmed from the request of her mother, Angela Severight, for whom it had become too difficult to take care of her daughter.
I asked for her ;helps many times. I asked for help to point her in the right direction, explains the one who is also a survivor of residential school for Indians.
“I didn't know what to do anymore.
Finally, on February 4, 2021, the Department of Human Services signed an agreement with Angela Severight.
We stepped in due to concerns about Stellayna's substance use and dangerous lifestyle, he said.
Bonnie Ford, who works for the Street Worker's Advocacy Project in Regina, was concerned for Stellayna Severight's safety.
Despite being taken into care by Social Services, Stellayna Severight's lifestyle did not seem to be improving.
His drug-taking habits and membership in a street gang were no secret, says Bonnie Ford who worked with the Severight family for many years.
The x27;teenage girl went from a group home to staying with friends before finding herself on the streets.
On at least two occasions, Regina police have issued press releases stating that the teenager was missing and that they were trying to find her.
Bonnie Ford, who works for Regina's Street Worker's Advocacy Project, was concerned for the safety of the young Indigenous woman after discovering she was staying in a building on Rae Street in the Saskatchewan capital. . She claims that this building is a home for drug traffickers in the area.
Bonnie Ford explains that Stellayna is one of the most disturbed children she has ever known: drug addict and drug dealer, the teenager worked with a local street gang since the 12 years old.
When the social worker decided to go see Stellayna, she found her in a bedroom, drugged, lying with a young man. She says she tried to persuade her to leave the apartment, but Stellayna allegedly shouted at her.
In the same apartment, Bonnie Ford claims to have also seen ;other girls aged 12 to 14 under the influence of drugs on a sofa.
After this visit, Bonnie Ford decided to speak to the agent at Child Protection who was handling Stellayna's case at the Department of Social Services.
However, once she got to her office, Bonnie Ford was turned away .
She then received a call from the officer to whom she had raised concerns about the teenager's safety. She recommended that he use the powers of the Youth Detoxification and Stabilization Act. The latter allows the Ministry to detain children between the ages of 12 and 17 against their will in order to wean them off their addiction.
I really thought they were going to do their job, says Bonnie Ford. I was thinking, OK, they'll get her right now and we'll take care of her.
According to Ministry of Services documents social media, no immediate action was taken on Stellayna Severight's case.
In an email exchange with the teen's mother, the Department says it received Bonnie Ford's April 28 remarks.
However, after unsuccessfully attempting to contact the Stellayna caretaker on May 6, the Ministry waited 10 days before taking further action.
Although the province refuses to saying who the teenager's caretaker was, Angela Severight believes is referring to her other 18-year-old daughter, with whom Stellayna sporadically lived.
The Ministry of Social Services was finally able to make an appointment with Stellayna's caretaker for May 24. However, the meeting will never take place.
The Ministry says they received a message that Stellayna was not there and had not been home for weeks.
On May 30, a police officer came to Angela Severight's home to tell her that her daughter, Stellayna, had died of an overdose in a house on Rae Street.
The Department of Social Services say they went to the Rae Street apartment building looking for the teenager. However, his representatives were unable to access it, as no one let them in.
That's when they called the police to report him missing, 29 days later. Bonnie Ford's warning.
A few days later, on May 30, a police officer showed up at Angela Severight's home to tell her that her daughter, Stellayna, had died of an overdose at the Rae Street home.
According to the coroner's office, the teenager had lethal amounts of fentanyl, carfentanil and methamphetamine in her blood.
Angela Severight explains that the police told her that her daughter had been lying on the couch for about 15 hours before someone realized she was dead.
She says she emailed the Department of Social Services asking for an explanation about the delay in action on Stellayna's case. An official replied that there would be a review of the services provided during the period the latter was under the responsibility of the province.
Bonnie Ford laments the turn of events, as she held out hope that Stellayna could get her life back together.
The teachers loved her. She was very smart, she says.
“Why wasn't anyone listening to what I said?
According to her, the delay between the warning she gave to Ministry officials and the efforts made to find the teenager demonstrates that these latter didn't care.
Maybe, if they had done their job, Stellayna would have had a chance, laments Bonnie Ford.
Angela Severight says that while she demands answers from the Department of Human Services, she can't help but feel a sense of regret for her daughter's death.
Shortly before her daughter's death, Angela Severight had been able to speak to her.
We had planned to go home together on Wednesday right there in our community.
The 14-year-old was buried in George Gordon First Nation.
Worst feeling , this is the one I failed with her. It's on my mind every day, all day, concludes Angela Severight.
With information from Geoff Leo