The Coroner’s Inquest into the Death of Devon Freeman
JFCY was granted standing as a public interest party at this Inquest which took place over four weeks in September and October 2022.
Devon Freeman was a 16 year old Indigenous child and member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation. He was in the care of the children’s aid society and was living at a residential children’s mental health facility / home when he went missing, in October 2017. Over six months later, Devon’s remains were found in the woods 35 meters from the facility / group home where he lived. He died by suicide.
The Inquest explored the circumstances of Devon’s life and death, and considered ways to prevent future deaths in similar circumstance. The Inquest heard evidence from children’s aid society workers and senior managers, group home staff and senior managers, police officers, psychiatrists, and Indigenous psychologists, service providers, and elders. JFCY also presented an expert report regarding the relevance and importance children’s rights principles in the context.
An Inquest Jury has the opportunity to make recommendations arising from the evidence presented; and the parties are able to propose recommendations for the Jury’s consideration. Here, the Inquest Jury adopted almost all of the recommendations proposed by the parties, strengthened the wording on a number of the recommendations, and added three of their own.
The Devon Freeman Inquest was an important proceeding where a careful investigation of the complex issues related to the experience of Indigenous children and families seeking children’s well-being supports was examined. Some powerful ceremony lead by the Chippewa’s of Georgina Island First Nation was incorporated into the Inquest. It was a profound and emotional experience and we hope that important systemic changes will result from the implementation of the Inquest Jury’s Recommendations.
Jury’s Verdict and Recommendations
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