Deaths of Indigenous children and youth with society involvement investigated by the Office of the Chief Coroner in 2018
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The ability to undertake meaningful analysis of the deaths of Indigenous children and youth served by societies is affected by limited data available to the OCC. The coroner may not identify children and youth as Indigenous as they rely on the information available in the course of their investigation (information sources include but are not limited to family members, community service providers and police). This affects the determination of the true number of Indigenous children and youth deaths that were investigated by the OCC in 2018. In addition, the number of deaths of Indigenous children and youth where a Society has been involved is small, preventing meaningful statistical analysis. Furthermore, the data available from other sources has limitations (for example, societies do not report identity or ethnicity).
The available data has been provided; however, given the noted limitations, meaningful inferences cannot be made. The OCC and PDRC – child welfare anticipate that with the future changes to the child and youth death review model, the quality and availability of data relating to Indigenous children and youth will be enhanced to support analyses that may inform prevention strategies targeted to Indigenous children and youth.
What does the available data tell us?
- Provincially, of the 34 coroner investigations into deaths of confirmed Indigenous children and youth age 0-18, 17 (50%) received the services of a Society within the 12 months prior to their death in 2018. This excludes one individual who died of natural causes, whose death would not have been investigated if there was no Society involvement and one Indigenous individual in the 19-21 age group who had Society involvement.
- Of the 17 Indigenous children and youth that had received the services of a Society within the 12 months prior to their death in 2018, 12 were involved with Indigenous child wellbeing societies, all of whom were 0-18 years of age at the time of their death. The other 5 were involved with non-Indigenous children’s aid societies. Indigenous children and youth are served by Indigenous child wellbeing societies when they reside in an area of Ontario in which a designated organization has jurisdiction.
- In 2018, there was a decrease in the number of deaths of identified Indigenous children and youth as well as the proportion of investigations of children and youth who were Indigenous in the North Region, where they or their family had Society involvement within 12 months prior to their death. In 2018, 11 (61%) of the 18 deaths in North Region where the Society had been involved with the child, youth or their family within 12 months of the death were identified as Indigenous children and youth. In 2018, one of the seven coroner investigations into the deaths of children and youth in the care of a Society or youth in receipt of Continued Care and Support for Youth involved Indigenous children and youth. The number of deaths of Indigenous children and youth that had involvement with a Society is too small to allow analysis of the manner of death. Chart 20 provides available information on the manner of death of the 35 Indigenous children and youth who died in 2018 (age 0-21). The distribution of the manner of death of Indigenous children and youth varies year-over-year and no consistent pattern has been identified.
Chart 20 provides available information on the manner of death of the 35 Indigenous children and youth that died in 2018, and compares cases with Society involvement to cases without Society involvement. The manners of death in 2018 were: 2 homicides, 8 accidents, 8 undetermined, 10 natural and 6 suicide. Note: This data includes children and youth age 0-21, where those in the 19-21 age group were involved with a Society. This data excludes natural deaths that would have not normally been investigated by a coroner if there were no Society involvement.
Chart 20: Manner of death among Indigenous children and youth in 2018, by Society involvement, Age 0-21 (n=35)
Children and youth in the care of a Society or receiving Continued Care and Support for Youth (CCSY) at the time of death
Chart 21 illustrates that in 2018, 17 children and youth (aged 0-18) were in the care of a Society at the time of their death, three were in customary care and eight youth were receiving CCSY. These 28 children and youth ranged in age from 6 days to 21 years. Note that this chart includes those who died of natural causes where a coroner’s investigation would not have taken place if there was no Society involvement.
Chart 21: Age breakdown of children and youth in care of Society or receiving CCSY at the time of death in 2018 (n=28)
Chart 22 shows the manners of death of children and youth in care or that were in receipt of CCSY in 2016 through to 2018. This chart includes data for those whose manner of death was natural that would not have been investigated if there was no Society involvement (n=28).
Chart 22: Manner of death of children and youth in the care of a Society or receiving CCSY at the time of death in 2016 – 2018