Samantha Lauren Martin June 4, 1993 - December 3, 2006
Her parents are John and Velvet Martin. On Jan. 17, 2011 they finally obtained 'a fatality inquiry' into the death of their severely disabled 13-year-old daughter Samantha who died unexpectedly. It is happening this morning. (Samantha Martin Public Fatality Inquiry / Court reconvenes today, Friday, March 18th at 9:30 am.
While they could have cancelled this agreement with 10-day notice, they were convinced that Samantha would not then receive all that she needed. She lived for almost a decade in a foster home that specialized in children with disabilities not far from St. Albert. There was a reorganization of children's services in 2005 and their file was transferred to another office, from which the Martins were told that the permanent guardian agreement was no longer in effect, that it had been abolished. No one had ever told them or they could have had Samantha home much sooner.
When finally she returned to her parents' home it was with high hopes that she could live a happy and normal life and that her parents could capably care for her. Her death by cardiac arrest was not expected. However, John and Velvet have believed that the time Samantha spent in foster care contributed to her death, claiming that she was mistreated. They know that Samantha's school had several “incident reports.” The Martins believe that the foster caregivers ignored concerns from the school that Samantha was having frequent tiny seizures. Further, they learned that the foster care facility had been investigated with respect to their daughter during her stay there. This is part of the testimony now. The Martins also alleged that Samantha's caseworker kept records that were skeletal and inadequate. An internal review in 2007 concluded that there was no connection between her tragic death and the foster care system. Therefore no criminal charges were laid.
Notwithstanding that, Velvet Martin pressed for a public inquiry which does not attribute blame but does examine the circumstances of the death in order to determine whether there are lessons to be learned to avert future similar tragedies. The Martins obtained this fatality inquiry and it is expected to last three weeks.
And one more major item. Velvet Martin has championed a new law known as Samantha's Law, a Canadian child protection law. The life and circumstances surrounding Samantha Lauren Martin, a child with a rare chromosome disorder, Tetrasomy 18p & Autism led her mother, Velvet Martin, to challenge archaic laws inhibiting the rights of persons with disability and their families. Specifically, no loving family of a child with developmental or medical diversity should be coerced into relinquishing custody - whether temporary or permanent - in effort to secure Government funding for required medical and therapeutic services! On December 3 2009 (the same date marks the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities being tabled in the House of Commons of Canada), Velvet Martin's persistence resulted in the establishment of "Samantha's Law." The Amendment to the Alberta Family Support for Children with Disabilities Act, became effective retroactive to December 2006. Section 2-3, Manual Amendments: Policy and Procedures in Family Centred Supports and Services: "The Family Support for Children with Disabilities Program to have separate legislation from that of child protection services.Tetrasomy 18p Website: Velvet Martin is Administrator for the website, Tetrasomy 18p Canada
Toronto Sun Story