‘Nobody listened’: Mother of teen killed in Carman says CFS ignored her safety concerns

The grieving mother of a teenager who was part of a family murdered in Carman, Man., over the weekend is demanding answers, claiming Winnipeg Children and Family Services placed her daughter in the home where she died despite warnings that it was not safe. .

Juliette Hastings looks at photos of her oldest daughter Myah-Lee Gratton, a 17-year-old girl who she said had a passion for life.

Juliette Hastings (right) with her eldest daughter Myah-Lee Gratton (left) in an undated photo. Myah-Lee was among five victims killed in Carman, Man. on February 11, 2024. (Submitted)

“Myah, she could do anything and her heart was so pure and so big,” Hastings said in an interview with CTV News, adding that Myah loved her four younger siblings. “I always called her butterfly. She was very colorful and she always wanted to be around people. Have fun. Make people smile.”

Myah-Lee was one of five people killed in Carman, Man., on Sunday. CTV News has confirmed that the other four victims include Amanda Clearwater, 30, and her three children: Bethany, six, Jayven, four, and Isabella, two and a half months.

Clearwater’s partner, Ryan Manoakeesick, who lived in the home at the time, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder. The charges have not been proven in court.

‘No one listened’: mother says the accused had a history of violent episodes

“Everything could have been avoided, and that’s what bothers me. Nobody listened. Nobody listened,” Hastings said.

She said about 10 months ago, Winnipeg CFS placed her daughter in the Manoakeesick and Clearwater home. Although she is not related by blood, Myah-Lee called her Aunt Mandy.

Myah-Lee Gratton appears in an undated image. She was among five victims killed in Carman, Man. on February 11, 2024. (Submitted)

Hastings said Myah-Lee had requested that CFS take her to Carman’s home following an argument with her in April 2023.

“CFS gave in to Myah and I said, ‘This is wrong,'” Hastings said, adding that he told his CFS worker several times that he feared the house was unsafe.

“They just dismissed everything I said, ignored it and just let it go,” he said.

Hastings said Manoakeesick had been struggling with mental health issues that caused violent episodes.

“He was throwing things, he was screaming, he was hitting the walls. He hurt family members there,” Hastings said, saying she lived with Clearwater for a short time and was concerned about Manoakeesick’s behavior, which she described as “scary.” “

“He wasn’t himself. He was strange. He had a bad temper and talked about aliens and stars, just weird things,” she said.

On more than one occasion, Hastings said police were called to the home because of Manoakeesick’s episodes. Manitoba RCMP would not confirm whether officers had been called to the home before Sunday’s murders, saying that is part of the ongoing investigation.

Manoakeesick was previously charged in 2021 with two counts of drink driving causing bodily harm. In 2019, he pleaded guilty to a mischief charge following a robbery while under the influence of methamphetamine.

At the time he told the court he was seeking mental health care.

‘You didn’t listen to me now and my baby is dead’

Although she conveyed her fears to CFS during the ten months her daughter was with the couple, Hastings said she felt her concerns fell on deaf ears.

“You didn’t listen to me now and my baby is dead,” she said.

Myah-Lee Gratton appears in an undated image. She was among five victims killed in Carman, Man. on February 11, 2024. (Submitted)

CTV News contacted Winnipeg Child and Family Services, which referred any comments to Manitoba’s provincial communications team.

A provincial spokesperson responded to CTV News with a statement.

“As a matter of practice, the department does not comment on any interactions within CFS and it would be highly inappropriate to comment on anything in the middle of a multiple murder investigation,” the statement read.

They did not confirm whether CFS took any action to address Hastings’ concerns, or whether CFS had been informed of any issues relating to Manoakeesick during the time Myah-Lee was at the home.

Families Minister says province has ‘robust’ licensing requirements for CFS placements

Manitoba Families Minister Nahanni Fontaine said in an interview with CTV News that she can’t speak to specific details of the case, but said generally any death of a child in CFS care will trigger a review by the CFS. Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth (MACY).

“There is a strong licensing regime in Manitoba for foster care or placement of children,” Fontaine said. “Once the research and, of course, the reviews come to light, certainly our government is more than prepared to look at whether or not those reviews say that there needs to be even stricter criteria or requirements for foster care placements.” breeding”.

In a statement to CTV News, a MACY spokesperson said it reviews any death of a child to determine if it falls within the scope of the advocate’s legislated services.

MACY Manitoba Advocate Sherry Gott said the province needs to do more.

“We need the government to act immediately to ensure we don’t lose more children and young lives,” Gott said in an interview Wednesday.

In a statement Wednesday night, Fontaine said it will take time and there is no easy solution to ending intimate partner violence.

“Our government is working hard every day to address intimate partner violence and all gender-based violence. The MACY report’s recommendations on intimate partner violence are informing our government’s strategy as we work to protect vulnerable Manitobans.”

Manitoba Families Minister Nahanni Fontaine is pictured during an interview with CTV News on February 13, 2024. (Source: Danton Unger/CTV News Winnipeg)

Fontaine said the death of any child in Manitoba concerns him and said the government will do everything it can to support the protection of women and children.

Hastings said she is looking for an attorney to help her seek answers as to why actions she believes could have saved her daughter’s life were not taken sooner.

“I felt this pain in my head and this anger in my chest, and it chokes me, saying, ‘Julie, you need to do more. This is not right. This is not right.'”

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