Police have laid homicide charges in the 2022 death of a five-year-old boy in foster care.
RCMP on Tuesday announced a Leduc County man has been charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of Patience Noskiye.
Police first became involved after emergency medical services was called to the rural foster home where the child was living on June 14, 2022. The RCMP major crimes unit took over the investigation as the cause of Noskiye’s death was “unknown,” police said.
A “lengthy” investigation followed, which resulted in manslaughter charges against 47-year-old Darren Gardner laid on Oct. 14, 2023.
Gardner was released from custody with an Alberta court of justice appearance set for next Thursday in Leduc. Gardner is also charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life.
In a written statement, Children and Family Services Minister Searle Turton said the ministry is cooperating fully with the RCMP investigation.
“My heart goes out to every family member, friend, and loved one who is grieving this unimaginable loss,” he said. “This situation is devastating, and I know this pain and grief will linger for a lifetime.”
The news comes just weeks after the release of Alberta’s latest report on deaths in care. The report found that 50 youth in care died between April 2022 and March 2023, making it the worst year on record. The total topped the previous high of 49 in 2021-22 and 34 the year prior.
An additional 21 youth died between April 1 and Sept. 30 of this year. Of those, nine were young people over the age of 18 receiving supports, while seven were among youth in kinship, foster, group home or treatment facility care.
Four of the fatalities were deemed accidental, although the majority had yet to be fully investigated.
A disproportionate number of deaths in care were Indigenous youth — 82 per cent last year, and 62 per cent so far this year, the report found.
— with files from Lisa Johnson
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