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'It's long overdue': Family of boy killed by foster parents supports decision to demote B.C. children's minister

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The family of a Fraser Valley boy killed by his foster parents supports the decision that saw the demotion of B.C.’s embattled children’s minister.

“It's long overdue. It should have happened long ago,” said the boy’s grandmother, who can’t be identified because of a court order.

 “I’m very happy to see her lose that position, but I’m not excited to see she still works there,” said the boy’s father.

Last week, Premier David Eby moved the now-former minister of children and family development, Mitzi Dean, out of her role. Dean is now the minister of state for child care.

Her former role is held by Victoria Beacon Hill MLA Grace Lore.

“I'm hoping for a definite positive change for all the children,” the grandmother said, urging the minister to do a better job than her predecessor.

“They need to make sure their caseworkers are doing their job totally for every child,” she said.

Her grandson was just 11 years old when he died in 2021 after prolonged and horrific abuse at the hands of his foster parents. He and his sister hadn’t been checked on by the Ministry of Children and Family Development in seven months prior to his death.

It’s a reality the boy’s family still struggles to believe.

“The system, it just failed all of us,” said the grandmother.

The boy’s father said it’s still deeply painful to think about their last visit, before, he says, pandemic restrictions prevented him from seeing his son for more than a year.

He remembers his son crying when he dropped him off at his foster home.

“I thought he was, like, ‘I don’t want you to leave because I miss you, Dad’. But I was dropping him off at the darkest place on earth,” the emotional father recalled.

“He wanted me to take him home,” he said, as he choked back tears.

The father said after recovering from addiction, he had been trying to get his son back.

Now, he’s trying to get answers in the boy’s death.

“I have been completely ignored and ghosted from everyone. The ministry, the other system that’s involved,” he said.

The boy’s grandmother also said she was initially ignored by Dean, who eventually met with her and apologized.

“To me, it was not heartfelt. It didn't have a meaning to it. It was just like reading from a piece of paper,” she said of Dean’s apology.

The grandmother said before her grandson was put in care, she’d asked child protection if she could take him in, but was turned down. She was never told why, and said Dean promised to look into it.

“(Dean) never came through. Nobody came through,” the grandmother said, adding that she hopes the new minister will meet with her family.

The grandmother and the boy’s father are also calling on the new minister to do a better job than they felt was done by Dean.

Meanwhile, the father continues to battle the grief and regret of not being able to protect his son.

“I hate living with this,” he said.

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