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Manitoba Child Protector Fired

December 6, 2009 permalink

In a round of musical chairs, David Monias, executive director of Manitoba's Awasis Agency, has been placed on administrative leave.



Head of beleaguered Manitoba child-welfare agency suspended

By Mary Agnes Welch, Winnipeg Free Press, December 5, 2009

baby in crib
The head of a Manitoba child-welfare agency that has been plagued with child deaths in recent years has been suspended pending a review of his operation.
Photograph by: NP, NP

WINNIPEG -- The head of a Manitoba child-welfare agency that has been plagued with child deaths in recent years has been suspended pending a review of his operation.

David Monias, the longtime executive director of the Awasis Agency, was placed on administrative leave a week ago by the Northern Authority, which is more than a year into a systemic review of how the child-welfare agency serves kids in care.

"This is done while a quality assurance review of the agency is underway," said Rachel Morgan, a spokeswoman for Manitoba Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh. "The Northern Authority wanted to ensure the review was unbiased."

The Northern Authority, the umbrella office that overseas several child-welfare agencies such as Awasis, appointed its own administrator under provisions of provincial legislation. Those provisions allow the Northern Authority to suspend an executive director if he is not properly carrying out his responsibilities or if the health and safety of children are threatened.

Despite five calls to the Northern Authority, chief executive officer Marie Lands could not be reached, so it's unclear exactly why Monias has been placed on leave.

Monias has been the agency's head for nine years.

Awasis is one of the Manitoba's biggest aboriginal child-welfare agencies, serving a dozen of the province's poorest and most remote communities.

In the last year, Awasis has been plagued by a series of child deaths.

Last November, 13-month-old Cameron Ouskan died while in foster care in Gillam, Man. His foster father is charged with second-degree murder.

Earlier that fall, Rephanniah Redhead, 14, committed suicide in Shamattawa and five-year-old Farron Miles drowned about two kilometres from his foster home on Cross Lake First Nation.

The troubles at Awasis date back even farther. A 2004 inquest into the abuse, sexual assault and suicide of a Shamattawa teen came down hard on the agency for sending her back into the care of a stepfather just released from jail for sexually abusing her.

More than a year ago, the province launched a "quality assurance" review of Awasis. Normally, reviews are triggered by a child death or management misdeeds, but the province also started systematic quality-assurance reviews of each of the aboriginal agencies to find problems. Awasis was first on the list, in part because of frequent rumblings of troubles at the agency.

The report was due last month.

As of the end of March, Awasis had 604 children in care.

Source: The Vancouver Sun