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Walk for the Dead
June 25, 2010 permalink
Evander Lee Daniels died in foster care in Saskatchewan at the age of 22 months. His father Chris Martell is embarking on a walk from Saskatoon to Prince Albert to raise awareness and to pay his legal fees.
Father of child who died in foster care plans awareness walk
SASKATOON — The father of a boy who died in foster care more than two weeks ago plans to walk 150 kilometres in two days to raise money to help him seek answers at the inquiry into his son's death.
Chris Martell will walk from Saskatoon to Prince Albert, Sask., to raise awareness about what happened to his son and to collect donations for legal fees.
His 22-month-old son was found in a bathtub, scalded by burns, on June 8. He was taken to hospital in Saskatoon by ambulance and pronounced dead on arrival. Autopsy results showed he died from drowning in the bathtub and that he suffered extensive "scald-type burns" across his body. The boy was in temporary care in a foster home near Aberdeen, Sask.
"My family's taking it really hard and so am I," said Martell. "I can't be alone."
While other parties involved in the inquiry process have legal representation, Martell must pay out of his own pocket.
At the last court date, he represented himself and was unable to get any answers.
"The people with legal representation got the answers, but I didn't. I felt left out," he said. "I broke down."
He realized he'd have to hire a lawyer to get the answers he needs. If negligence is found, Martell hopes to launch a civil action.
He's put in as many extra hours at work as possible, but needs at least $5,000 to afford legal representation.
Martell will leave the outskirts of Saskatoon early in the morning on July 9. He hopes to begin walking at 4 a.m., and reach Rosthern, Sask., by midnight for a five-hour break. He will then continue on to Prince Albert.
"It's for my son. I'd do anything for my son," he said. He has asked the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations for help with legal fees, but was told he'd have to pay them back.
The father will be assisted by friends along his walk. He hopes to complete the journey in two days. Anyone is invited to join in the walk.
Donations can be made through the Walk for Justice Fund at the CIBC Confederation Branch in Saskatoon. All money in the trust fund will go directly to Martell's lawyer.
There will be another walk held for those who can't make the trip July 10 in Saskatoon.
The Sturgeon Lake First Nation also has plans to hold a memorial walk July 8.
The band has its own legal representation. The band and its Child and Family Service Agency are asking for the review of foster care files relating to First Nations children. The toddler was the second child from the First Nation to die while in foster care in less than 12 months.
The RCMP and the coroner continue to investigate the death. Their work could take between three and six months. The Ministry of Social Services is pulling together files on the toddler, but will not investigate until RCMP finish their work.
Addendum:In a later walk dad goes from Saskatoon to Regina
Father whose son died in foster care begins walk from Saskatoon to Regina
Chris Martell, whose son died in June while in foster care, is walking to Regina from Saskatoon to raise money to launch a lawsuit, as well as for a memorial fund for his son.
Martell’s 22-month-old son Evander Lee Daniels died on June 8 while in foster care. Police, who had been called to a farm near Aberdeen, found the boy partially submerged in water in a bathtub. While an autopsy determined he drowned, it also showed the toddler suffered extensive “scald-type burns” across his body.
Eunice Wudrich, 45, has been charged with criminal negligence causing death and endangering the life of a child in connection with Daniels’ death.
Martell left downtown Saskatoon Friday morning and is scheduled to arrive in Regina several days from now. He’s walking on the side of Highway 11, wearing a fluorescent vest and followed by a vehicle.
He said any donations will go toward a memorial fund in Evander’s name, but also for his own legal fees as he pursues a lawsuit against various officials. He said he needs the money because his First Nation won’t pay his legal fees, as Evander was registered with his biological mother’s First Nation. Martell admitted his First Nation has given him $800 or $900, but said that wasn’t enough.
Martell also intends to deliver a letter to Social Services officials in Regina with recommendations on improving the foster-care system.
Source: Saskatoon Star Phoenix