Jan 13, 2014 - Samatha Kematch Another Victim by Terrance Nelson
Eight thousand First Nation children are in Child and Family Services in the Province of Manitoba. In a week or so, the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry Report will be released. http://www.phoenixsinclairinquiry.ca/
Phoenix was tortured and killed by her mother Samatha Kematch. No doubt Judge Hughes who oversaw the Inquiry will condemn Samatha Kematch and her common law husband Karl McKay for their actions in the death of Phoenix Sinclair. Forgotten will be the fact that Samatha Kematch was once a cute and innocent child, as cute and innocent as Phoenix. What turned Samatha into a monster? What caused her to take her anger out on her child? The Media is unlikely to ever see Samatha Kematch as another victim of the Genocide occurring in Canada.
Overall in Canada 30,000 children are in CFS. The vast majority of those children in care are from Indigenous communities. The unemployment in First Nations is between 60 and 95% in a huge percentage of the poorest of the 633 First Nations in Canada. The Canadian Indian Act still exists in Canadian law; an act that has created economic apartheid for First Nations. In Canada, there is a list of over 600 Murdered and Missing indigenous women and included in that 600 is 90 Murdered and Missing women in Manitoba.
The United Nations passed the Genocide Act in 1948. The UN defined Genocide as:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious or bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
(e) Forcefully transferring children of the group to another group.
In the future someone or some people will take Canada and Manitoba to court. A man named Tony Merchant, a Regina, Saskatchewan lawyer did the same thing many years ago. He took on a court case that almost bankrupted his law firm and caused divisions amongst his friends and associates. He helped residential school survivors sue the Government. He eventually won six figure settlements for his clients. Tony Merchant is not a hero according to some who challenged his contingency fees. Tony Merchant took on a case that no one else would at the time. He worked for years for people with no money and he got justice for people who had no access to the courts, people too poor to hire a lawyer. What is happening to the children under the Child and Family Services system in Canada and in Manitoba meets the definition of Genocide.
Winnipeg Free Press writer Lindor Reynolds has written numerous articles on the Phoenix Sinclair case http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/father-bears-blame-failed-girl-too-182324291.html, she took on the Phoenix Sinclair murder as a crusade. Reynolds however tells only one side, blaming Samatha and mostly the First Nations leadership for the death of Phoenix Sinclair. It is true that Samatha Kematch killing her own child is as bad as it gets. The story no one tells however is, what made Samatha Kematch a monster? Samatha Kematch is in jail and not been declared mentally insane. If there is a Gladue report on Samatha, it may come out in the Inquiry Report or the Inquiry Report may only continue to blame the victims of Genocide.
What made Samatha Kematch hate a small child so much that she would beat her constantly and eventually kill her own daughter? Samatha Kematch was a product of Child and Family Services. Samatha Kematch’s ability to transfer hate to her female child is a result of something that happened to Samatha Kematch early on in life. Victims of pedophiles, children who were raped, are shamed into silence. Whether Samatha is a victim of a pedophile or pedophiles remains to be seen. It is likely the Inquiry Report will white wash the Manitoba Government. It will be a surprise to me if a Judge appointed and paid by the Government would condemn that very Government. Would any Judge use the word Genocide in describing the policy and practises in Manitoba that forcefully transfers children from First Nation communities to other ethnic groups?
Samatha Kematch hated herself and took that hatred out on her child. She saw herself in her daughter. What will come out is more silence. The silence of a people who have so long suffered the Genocide that they no longer feel it worth it to protest the Governments and the systems that Government have created by legislation. As CBC reported, “There were also the people who knew Phoenix. People who witnessed her mother, Samantha Kematch, and stepfather, Karl McKay, abuse and neglect the little girl.” There is evidence that Karl McKay was a pedophile. The Hughes Report may reveal that, it may not. The reality is however, what happened is not new, it is a result of generations of Indigenous people living with the impact of the residential school policy that included sexual abuse, pedophile priests who took advantage of children. The system continued in the1960s when thousands of Indigenous children were forcefully transferred out of the First Nations, some sold into foster homes worldwide.
The anger and frustration with Child and Family Service was expressed forcefully by women and Chiefs on the morning of Thursday January 9 in South Beach Conference Center. In the afternoon, I was elected Grand Chief of Southern Chiefs Organization- elected representative of 33 First Nations Chiefs in southern Manitoba. I was elected largely because the Chiefs and people were angry and frustrated by how they have been treated for so long. The Chiefs knew that I am the Vice Chair of the American Indian Movement and they knew that in October 2012, just a year ago, I and former Chief Dennis Pashe were in Iran meeting with the leadership of Iran. Iran is the head of the Non Aligned Movement,120 countries, and Iran is in the leadership position of the OPEC Nations. Why would the Chiefs elect a known radical, militant leader? The answer is simple: they were tired.
The next day, I and the two other Grand Chiefs in Manitoba met with Minister of Justice and Attorney General for the Province of Manitoba, Andrew Swan on matters of policing. I spoke of Child and Family Services. Andrew Swan is a nice guy but he is involved in Genocide. We also are complicit in Genocide if we take the United Nations definition of Genocide literally. We are the brown faces in a white system of forcefully transferring our children to another group. What is important for our people to understand is that the Governments cannot and will not rescue us. Over twenty years ago, the Manitoba Aboriginal Justice Inquiry was concluded. One of the most expensive Inquires in the history of Manitoba made recommendations, it condemned the system, made accusations but largely the AJI report has gathered dust on government shelves since then. The First Nations in the meantime, waited and waited and went to meeting after meeting hoping that the immigrant governments would do something. The Hughes Inquiry Report on Phoenix Sinclair will be another AJI, if the First Nations have not learned a lesson from the AJI and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. These Inquires made recommendations that Governments ignored. We as the First Nations can no longer ignore the plight of our children. We must take action.
If the system continues as is, billions of dollars will be spent trying to treat the problem. Prevention is a more logical solution but it is not what the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry will bring about. What emotions and prejudice dictate is that the Child and Family service system in Manitoba should be put out of reach of the Chiefs and Councils and indigenous children should be forcibly transferred form the First Nations to non-native homes. That was the non-native reasoning behind Residential Schools, it was the reasoning behind the 1960s scoop and it is the reasoning today. The Hughes may surprise even a veteran activist like me but the Media reaction to the Hughes report will not surprise me, in short the Media reaction will be, White people good, Indians bad.
I asked Minister Swan, is it true that the Child and Family Services system is a $400 million cost per year? If I did get an answer from him, I don’t remember it. Some of our children have been warehoused in hotels and some foster homes can be paid up to $500 per day for children deemed by the system as high risk. There is money to be made on Genocide. In the 1990s, there was great hope that the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry Report would force government into solutions. We are now being told to wait for the Hughes Inquiry Report. For more than twenty years, we waited for Governments to solve the problems those very Governments created in our communities and the results speak for themselves.
“In Manitoba, Aboriginals represent 15 percent of the provincial population but 71 percent of the all prisoners. In Saskatchewan, the ratio is 79 percent out of 15 percent of the provincial population. And in Alberta, the ratio is an astonishing 80 percent out of 11 percent of the people.”
We failed Phoenix Sinclair by not taking the necessary actions we have to. We waited and waited. Some may condemn me for not waiting for the Hughes Report before speaking out. In the meeting with Minister Swan, frustration and angry was expressed by the Grand Chief of Northern Manitoba. He expressed frustration at the number of meetings they have had with the Province of Manitoba and the lack of concrete solutions resulting from those meetings. The reason for the meeting was that the Federal Government is cutting out Band Constable funding in April 2015. On average, the First Nations covered by the Band Constable program receive about $40,000 per community in Federal Funding. The northern First Nations contribute over three times more money to the program than the Feds. Cutting out the core federal funding will ensure that the Band Constable program will likely fold, leaving those First Nations communities with little or no police services. No one in authority to respond to complaints.
We have a decision to make, do we continue to involve ourselves in Genocide or do we confront the laws that have created the Genocidal policies. How many murdered and missing women will come from the CFS system. How many more times will we attend meetings only to be told we have no authority to arm our own people, to create our own police forces, to create our own courts and to jail our own people and others who violate our laws.
The direction we take must have the support of the governed. If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we condemn our children to suffer from the same system that created Samatha Kematch and Karl McKay. We owe Phoenix and the other victims of the CFS system, the courage to change, the courage to confront the immigrant government that tell us, we have no right to challenge the Genocide. At some point soon Manitoba and the Chiefs could be faced with a $50 billion lawsuit from the victims of Child and Family Services. We will not be able to hide behind the defense that it was the law.
Terrance Nelson photo by: (WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES)
Vice-Chair American Indian Movement
Southern Chiefs Organization Grand Chief