September 16, 2022

September 26, 2022 is the start of the inquest into the death of Devon Freeman, an Indigenous youth who was receiving services from Hamilton Children’s Aid Society when he died by suicide. Devon first went missing in October 2017 and his body was found on the property of the youth mental health facility where he was residing in April 2018.

Devon Freeman’s death was a heartbreaking loss that was felt by all those who knew him and continues to have impact on his family and community.  As Hamilton CAS we are saddened his death and acknowledge the loss to both his family and his community.

Hamilton CAS supports the decision of the coroner to call this inquest into Devon’s death.  We are committed to working together with Devon’s family, his nation, the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation and partners in the community to help identify and implement recommendations that would reduce the risk of a tragedy like Devon’s death from happening again.

As the inquest approaches, we want to share our commitment to open and transparent communications so that staff are informed and supported, and the community understands our commitment to working with our Indigenous partners and families to review and recommend areas where Devon and his family could have been better served if the right supports were available at the right time.

If you have any questions, please reach out to inquest@hamiltoncas.com

Guiding principles

Throughout preparations, and during the inquest, Hamilton CAS will focus on four guiding principles:

1. The Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton acknowledges that we are accountable to review and revise our internal processes in an open and transparent manner and learn from Devon’s tragic death.

2. The Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton acknowledges that the best service and support is provided to Indigenous children when we work collaboratively with their community.  During the inquest we will aspire to work closely with the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation and community partners with the goal of assisting the Coroner and jury to develop recommendations that will honor Devon and influence systemic improvements.

3. The Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton acknowledges that there is a need to enhance ethno-specific services and supports to Indigenous children, youth, and families within the community as well as across Ontario.   We believe that the inquest process will involve reviewing and recommending areas where Devon and his family could have been better served if the right supports were available at the right time.

4. The Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton acknowledges that we need to all work together as community organizations to develop a joint coordinated plan for families and children to best support their needs and to have their voice help guide a community response to their needs which include the social determinants of health.