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Special Reports

A Place Where it Feels Like Home: The Story of Tina Fontaine

March 12, 2019 – Sagkeeng First Nation

Tina Fontaine might always be known for the tragic way in which she died, but it is her life that is an important story worth knowing.

It was on August 17, 2014, when most people would learn her name, but Tina’s story began long before that day. It began even before Tina was born on New Year’s Day in 1999.

To know Tina’s story, to really understand how she came to symbolize a churning anger of a nation enraged, each of us can look as far back as the arrival of European settlers, and as close to home as the depth of our own involvement or indifference in the lives and experiences of Indigenous youth.

To view full report: https://manitobaadvocate.ca/wp-content/uploads/MACY-Special-Report-March-2019-Tina-Fontaine-FINAL1.pdf

To read the formal remarks made by the Manitoba Advocate at the public release of the Tina Fontaine report: https://manitobaadvocate.ca/wp-content/uploads/The-Story-of-Tina-Fontaine-Speaking-notes-for-the-Manitoba-Advocate-March-2019.pdf

Our Youth Ambassador Advisory Squad (YAAS) made a 2-page summary by youth, for youth about the Tina Fontaine report. Check out what the youth squad thinks! https://manitobaadvocate.ca/wp-content/uploads/Special-Report-Summary-for-Youth-A-Place-Where-it-Feels-Like-Home_The-Story-of-Tina-Fontaine-March-13-2019.pdf

Learning from Nelson Mandela: A Report on the Use of Solitary Confinement and Pepper Spray in Manitoba Youth Custody Facilities


February 21, 2019 – MANITOBA – Two years ago, after receiving a number of complaints about the uses of segregation, solitary confinement, and pepper spray in youth custody facilities in Manitoba, the independent offices of the Ombudsman and the Advocate determined there was a need for an independent investigation.

The Ombudsman’s focus, as he explained a few moments ago, was to examine existing legislation, regulations, policies, and procedures, and to determine whether they were being appropriately followed by custodial staff and administrators. The focus of my office was to look at whether the use of pepper spray and segregation in youth populations is justified and whether the justice system is reflecting the best interests of youth while they are responsible for their care. In addition, my team analyzed the data against the backdrop of human rights and specifically the protected rights of children.

This report presents clear evidence that methods such as segregation and pepper spray do not make the public safer. It is indisputable that therapeutic approaches work, can lower re-offending, and increase public safety.

For the complete report from the Manitoba Advocate see this link: https://manitobaadvocate.ca/wp-content/uploads/MACY-2019-Learning-from-Nelson-Mandela-FINAL.pdf 

For a three-page summary for adults, see this link: https://manitobaadvocate.ca/wp-content/uploads/FINAL-3-Pager-Summary.pdf

For a one-page summary for youth, see this link: https://manitobaadvocate.ca/wp-content/uploads/FINAL-One-Pager-Youth-FINAL.pdf

In Need of Protection: Angel’s Story

December 13, 2018 – The Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth today released her second public child death report since the expansion of her mandate earlier this year. Today’s report, In Need of Protection: Angel’s Story details the life of Angel, who died at age 17 after a lifetime of unaddressed and compounded trauma. The Manitoba Advocate discusses themes of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), sexual exploitation of children and youth, the urgent need for a continuum of care including safe and secure addition treatment for youth, and further calls on the provincial government to implement a robust youth mental health strategy, which is so desperately needed. The Advocate’s report links what happened to Angel to what is happening today for a number of youth who are connected to the advocacy program at the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth Office.

For the complete report: https://manitobaadvocate.ca/wp-content/uploads/In-Need-Of-Protection-Angels-Story-Dec-2018.pdf

To read the remarks provided by the Advocate on the morning of this release: https://manitobaadvocate.ca/wp-content/uploads/2_MACY-Report-In-Need-of-Protection-Dec-2018-Speaking-notes-for-the-Manitoba-Advocate.pdf


The Manitoba Advocate releases her first public child death report since The Advocate for Children and Youth Act was proclaimed

October 19, 2018 – In her first publicly released child death investigation since the proclamation of The Advocate for Children and Youth Act in March 2018, Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth, Daphne Penrose, shares the story of an Indigenous youth who died tragically in a vehicle accident in a rural community.

To read the Advocate’s full report, see this link.

To read the press release, see this link.

The Manitoba Advocate’s Statement of Concern on Mental Health and Addiction Services for Youth

September 21, 2018 – MANITOBA – The Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth today released a statement of concern on the state of youth mental health and addiction services in the province. To read the Advocate’s full statement, see this link.

The Advocate for Children and Youth Act set to be Proclaimed March 15, 2018

March 6, 2018 – MANITOBA– The Children’s Advocate announced today that The Advocate for Children and Youth Act will be proclaimed next week. For the full statement and background, see this link.


Special statement from the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates: Special statement on Indigenous child welfare following national meetings in Ottawa last week

January 31, 2018 – Following last week’s emergency meeting on Indigenous child welfare in Ottawa, convened by Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA) has issued the following statement: full text here

SPECIAL RELEASE – The Children’s Advocate releases the executive summary of the quality assurance review of the OCA’s Advocacy Services program

April 10, 2017https://manitobaadvocate.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017-Advocacy-Services-Program-Review-execsumm-FINAL.pdf

MEDIA STATEMENT – Children’s Advocate responds to the illegal leak to media of a confidential child death report

March 27, 2017

Statement from the Children’s Advocate

I am shocked and saddened that a confidential child death review completed by my office in 2014 has been unlawfully given to the media. Child death reviews completed by my office involve broad and intensive examinations of some of the most difficult circumstances Manitoba families can face.

For the complete statement: https://manitobaadvocate.ca/wp-content/uploads/Advocate-statement-on-leaked-child-death-report-Mar-27-2017.pdf

SPECIAL REPORT – So Much Left to Do: Status Report on the 62 Recommendations from the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry

November 24, 2016 – MANITOBA – Nearly three years after the provincial government received the final report of the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry, only 29% of the recommendations are completed, according to a status report released today by children’s advocate, Darlene MacDonald.

“The government has been surprisingly quiet on what action they have taken to respond to the recommendations made in the final report of the inquiry,” explained MacDonald, “We feel the public has a right to understand what improvements are being made in the wake of Phoenix’s tragic death. We want to encourage a more transparent public conversation.”

For the media summary, please follow this link.

To read the full status report (14 pages, plus appendices), please follow this link.

SPECIAL REPORT – On the Edge Between Two Worlds: Community Narratives on the Vulnerability of Marginalized Indigenous Girls

June 15, 2016 – MANITOBA – Reconciliation is not a destination, but a winding road on which we are all invited to walk, and each of us has an important role to play in healing our shared and difficult history, according to a narrative report released today by the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA). In Manitoba, as in the rest of the country, citizens are embracing an era of community building and a time of righting the historical injustices that have been experienced by Canada’s First Peoples. The years of racist and gendered violence that has been allowed to fester and grow in our communities shows its terrible face in the numbers of girls who are targeted and exploited. And despite the historical injustices, Indigenous girls on the edge of womanhood continue to thrive and to be the primary influencers of the developing generations.

The OCA worked alongside respected Indigenous scholar, Dr. Marlyn Bennett, to gather the stories and the lessons from the community and to weave them together to create a tapestry of community narratives. The report out today is unique in many ways and highlights voices that are too often dismissed by mainstream public care systems. At times their words are empowering and gentle and at times they roil with understandable anger and passion.

For the full press release, please follow this link.

For the full narrative report (93 pages) please follow this link.

SPECIAL REPORT – The Changing Face of Youth Suicide in Manitoba and the Narrow Window for Intervention: Phase Two

May 26, 2016 -The majority of children and youth involved with child welfare in Manitoba are exhibiting known risk factors for suicide, according to a new report released today by Darlene MacDonald, Manitoba’s Children’s Advocate. However, it is important to look more deeply at what their behaviours reveal in order to better protect them from harm.

“Children and youth come to the attention of child welfare for many different reasons,” explained MacDonald, “and what we are seeing is that youth who are at highest risk for suicide are experiencing known risk factors for suicide more frequently, with more intensity, and for longer durations than their peers who are not dying.”

For the press release, please follow this link.

To access the full Phase Two report (20 pages), please follow this link. 

SPECIAL REPORT – Don’t Call Me Resilient: What Loss & Grief Look Like for Children and Youth in Care

May 10, 2016 – In an effort to help children and youth in care come to terms with traumatic events, well-meaning adults in their lives can be hesitant to dig below the surface. Abuse, neglect, witnessing domestic violence, living with caregivers who are struggling with addiction, all of these can be traumatic for the child and can bring a family to the attention of the child welfare system. When home conditions deteriorate and children are brought into protective care, separation from parents, siblings, community, and familiar routine can also be traumatic events. The uncertainty that can follow in the life of the child, and the powerlessness many of them feel can further exacerbate the issues of loss and grief, according to a new report released today by Darlene MacDonald, Manitoba’s Children’s Advocate.

For the press release, please follow this link.

To read or download the full report (22 pages), please follow this link.


PRESS RELEASE – Statement by the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates in support of Mental Health Week in Canada, May 2-8, 2016

May 6, 2016 – The eleven members of the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA) speak out in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s 65th Annual Mental Health Week.

English press release and backgrounder (includes case stories from each member province and territory).

Communiqué de presse – la santé mentale des enfants et des jeune.

SPECIAL REPORT- Children Need Families, Not Courtrooms: Alternatives to Adversarial Litigation in Child Welfare

March 23, 2016

MANITOBA – Manitoba’s child welfare system is rooted in provincial child welfare legislation. Almost every single child who is in care of the child and family services system, is a subject of legal proceedings – with all children under temporary or permanent orders, being so ordered by provincial courts. Regardless of Manitoba’s attempts to “devolve” the child welfare system through the creation of culturally appropriate aboriginal child welfare authorities and agencies, one of the criticisms that many indigenous people have leveled against the child welfare system, is that it is premised within the very same legal and court system that has facilitated colonization and assimilationist laws and practices, including the laws that facilitated and enforced the residential school system, the 60s scoop, and contemporary child welfare trends that include gross overrepresentation of indigenous children in care.

As such, the Children’s Advocate partnered with respected indigenous legal scholar, Dr. David Milward, of the University of Manitoba, to undertake some initial research examining innovative alternatives to conventional adversarial child welfare litigation. In the report released today by the Office of the Children’s Advocate, Dr. Milward provides an analysis of both the benefits and the harmful consequences of adversarial court-based approaches to addressing child welfare issues.

For the Executive Summary, please follow this link.

For Dr. Milward’s full report: Children Need Families, Not Courtrooms: Alternatives to Adversarial Litigation in Child Welfare, please follow this link.



MEDIA RELEASE: Children’s Advocate Reacts to New Office Powers Proposed Today

December 3, 2015 –

MANITOBA –Nearly two years after the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry recommended an expansion of our mandate, the government today tabled new proposed legislation that would expand services of the Children’s Advocate. The changes proposed today are a step toward the strong recommendations which have been made, but they do not fulfill what the Commission urged the government to do.

Read more here: Media release


SPECIAL REPORT: Children’s Advocate calls on government to address needs of 5,848 permanent wards in CFS care

MANITOBA – Manitoba’s children’s advocate, Darlene MacDonald, today called on the provincial government to address the long-term needs of the thousands of children and youth who are in care as permanent wards. In a newly released special report, Permanency Beyond Foster Care, The Office of the Children’s Advocate specifically examined what happens after a child becomes a permanent ward in Manitoba. In Manitoba, there are more than 10,000 children in care and of those, 5,848 are in care as permanent wards.

Media release
Special report: Permanency Beyond Foster Care

MEDIA RELEASE: National Child Day – November 20, 2015

On National Child Day, the eleven members of the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates repeat their call to the federal government and provincial and territorial governments to come together and address the dire situation of Indigenous child welfare in Canada.

Media statement
Communiqué de presse

SPECIAL REPORT: Safe for Today: Barriers to Long-Term Success for Youth in Care with Complex Needs

July 16, 2015 – MANITOBA – The Manitoba child welfare system is not meeting the needs of youth in care who have complex needs, concludes Safe For Today, a report released this morning by the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA). The detailed report is a follow-up to the OCA’s 2012 study that also examined youth in care with complex needs and the ability of the Manitoba child welfare system to provide support and services for this highly vulnerable in-care population.

Press Release: Highlights, themes, and overview of recommendations from the full report



Press Release: Children’s Advocate Act creates stand-along legislation for the Children’s Advocate but includes minimal service changes for children and youth. (Released June 10, 2015)

Today the government introduced the new Children’s Advocate Act. While we are pleased this new legislation extracts us from underneath the Child and Family Services Act, we are disappointed that fixing the concerns we have repeatedly raised on the limits of our legislation have again been delayed.


Special Release: Declaration of Reconciliation by the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (Released June 1, 2015)

With the closing events for the Truth and Reconciliation process underway in Ottawa, Manitoba Children’s Advocate, Darlene MacDonald, is honoured to have been invited alongside her counterparts across the provinces and territories to participate in this historical event for Canada. Read below the Council’s declaration of reconciliation and the promises we make as advocates for children and youth. The only way forward is to join together as a nation healing.

Special Report: The Changing Face of Youth Suicide in Manitoba and The Narrow Window for Intervention: PHASE I SUMMARY REPORT (Released May 6, 2015)

OCA’s Quality Assurance program releases its SIR Program Evaluation – Executive Summary – March 2015

PRESS RELEASE – January 27, 2015 – Children’s Advocate disappointed government remains slow on improving legislation

PRESS RELEASE – October 8, 2014Children’s Advocate reacts to lack of detail on government’s progress on recommendations from the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry

Letter from Manitoba’s Children’s Advocate and other members of the CCCYA to the Council of the Federation regarding the need for a national dialogue about Indigenous children and youth (August 2014): English Version and French Version

Memorandum of Understanding – Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates – On delivering advocacy services to children and families moving between provinces (Fall 2013)

Youth Focus Group Series – Transitioning From Care – March 2013

Youth with Complex Needs Report – March 2012

Progress Report on the Recommendations from the Strengthening Our Youth Report 2006 – February 2012

Aboriginal Children and Youth in Canada: Canada Must Do Better – Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates – 2011

Submissions to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights • March 2011

Présentation au Comité permanent de la justice et des droits de la personne de la Chambre des communes – Mars 2011

Emergency Placements for Children in Manitoba’s Child Welfare System – March 2009

Honouring Their Spirits: The Child Death Review – September 2006

Strengthen The Commitment: An External Review of the Child Welfare System – September 2006

Strengthening Our Youth: Their Journey to Competence and Independence – November 2006

Shelter Review Report – March 2004