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'They were literally feral': Demands for answers in horrific B.C. case of child neglect

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Warning: The details of this story are disturbing.

A horrific case of child neglect involving three young children has their extended family in northern B.C. demanding answers.

The children’s foster mom wants to know why repeated pleas to social services and police to check on the children were apparently ignored for years.

“The children, when found, they were covered in feces, urine. They literally were feral and I’m not exaggerating. They were literally feral,” said the foster mom, who is also a relative of the children.

She can’t be named to protect the children’s identity, but said red flags started going up when visitors would get a glimpse inside the children’s home from the doorway.

“Overflowing garbage, feces, urine smells, rotting food smells, fast food everywhere...feces going up the hall stairways,” she said.

Relatives in Fort St. John told CTV News that worry for the three young Indigenous children – who were allegedly neglected in two communities, one in the north and one in the southern Interior – led to at least seven calls to authorities.

“I was the one that phoned the police twice, but other family members did, in fact, call (the Ministry of Children and Family Development) and I had a couple times as well,” she said.

Another relative told CTV News that she hasn’t seen the children in several years, but previously would help care for them to give the parents a break.

“Every time I would pick them up they would be dirty,” she said.

“They would be smelly, I would immediately have to strip them of their clothes, wash everything that they had.”

She said that after she gave a statement to child services, the parents stopped allowing her to see the kids.

Other relatives were also cut off from seeing the children, who are now four and five years old.

 “I know the oldest jumped out of the window naked and was running down a street and was found by police and was taken back to the home,” the foster mom said.

She initially assumed authorities were checking on the children, and that perhaps things weren’t as bad as suspected in the home.

Relatives would later learn that apparently that was not the case.

Relatives told CTV News that last December, the siblings were finally removed after the biological mom herself contacted MCFD, saying she couldn’t cope. It was only then that the extended family would realize how severe the neglect had been.

Family members learned the children had been isolated from the outside world, locked in their rooms daily.

The aunt said that at first, they were shocked at the children's lack of social skills, including how they ate.

“We put food in front of them and they stuck their faces down like dogs would eat out of a bowl or a dog dish,” said their aunt.

“They were not verbal at all – if anything, one to two words. No potty training whatsoever,” said the foster mom.

"They were absolutely 100 per cent eating their feces and drinking their urine. I witnessed them trying to do it. And vomiting and then before you could get something to clean it up, swiping it up to eat it," she said.

The foster mom said it was devastating to see the children after they were taken into care because of how deeply traumatized they now are.

“It was disturbing. It was horrible,” said the sobbing foster mom. “Especially when you called (the ministry) so many times.”

Even now, the children scream without reason for hours at a time, have extreme difficulty sleeping, and often rock back and forth. The little girl is afraid of people and terrified to leave the home. The oldest boy, while school age, was never sent to school.

The children’s aunt said after hearing about the children’s emotional and mental state, she thought she had prepared herself before seeing them for the first time after they went into care.

“But I wasn’t prepared for the way that they were,” the aunt recalled. “It was awful. They had no life in their eyes.”

The foster family and relatives want to know why the neglect was able to go on for so long when social services had been called.

“It’s horrendous. It’s horrendous what those kids went through,” said a relative.

“It’s sickening. (Social services’) entire job is to protect children,” the aunt added.

The foster mom wept as she spoke about her frustration over the lack of response from authorities, and that despite repeated calls, the children were not protected.

“From my understanding, not one home visit was done,” she said.

The family also believes there should be a criminal investigation. 

Contacted for comment, an RCMP spokesperson would not confirm whether the force is currently investigating the allegations.

Children's Minister Grace Lore told CTV News she couldn't speak to the specifics of the case, but said the family’s story is "beyond heartbreaking."

"When concerned family and community reach out to our ministry, it is absolutely essential we are doing everything to make sure those cases, calls and reports are screened. Kids need us to get this right," said Lore.

She also said her ministry has been making important changes.

This is the first in a three-part exclusive investigative series. The second part, including more on the changes underway at the Ministry of Children and Family Development, will be published Tuesday. 

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