|Velvet Martin (Samantha’s mom)|
Samantha Lauren Martin June 4, 1993 - December 3, 2006
With a song by Avril Lavigne here is an informative video tribute that celebrates both the importance of Life and also the loving memory of this young girl named Samantha Lauren Martin. It describes her brief life and the objective of her natural parents who missed having her in their home for most of her life. This article explains the reasons for that. Her mother has sought a Fatality Inquiry as well as personal closure. Samantha's death inspired Samantha's Law.
(this is an archived file from a Toronto Sun article from 2011)
Velvet Martin is Samantha’s mother. On Jan. 17, 2011 she finally obtained 'a Fatality Inquiry' into the death of her 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. Edmonton Provincial Court, Room 449, Law Courts, 1A Sir Winston Churchill Square, Edmonton, AB T5J 0R2)
You will find her interesting and heart-rending story at various internet sites. Her death in Dec. 2006, of cardiac arrest, was not while in foster care, but rather, six months after she had moved back into her parents' home in St. Albert, Alberta., following more than a decade in foster care. Samantha had a rare genetic disorder called Tetrasomy 18p, which left her mentally and physically disabled. Velvet has testified that shortly after Samantha was born it was apparent that she was severely disabled and social workers urged the Velvet Martin to surrender her child into foster care. She signed a voluntary "permanent guardianship agreement" because she was persuaded that Samantha would have free and full access to the best programs and services which the parents could not pay for themselves if she retained custody of her.
While Velvet could have cancelled this agreement with 10-day notice, she was 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file was transferred to another office, from which the Martins were told that the permanent guardian agreement was no longer in effect, that it had been abolished. However, the full truth about their status of guardianship was not revealed until Samantha was close to death in hospital. No one had ever told them or they could have had Samantha home much sooner.
When finally she returned to her parental 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, Velvet has believed that the time Samantha spent in foster care contributed to her death, claiming that she was mistreated (based upon observations and substantiated with documentation.) She knows that Samantha's school had several “incident reports.” Velvet Martin believes that the foster caregivers ignored concerns from the school that Samantha was having frequent absence seizures. Further, she learned that the foster care facility had been investigated with respect to her daughter during her stay there. This is part of the testimony now. Velvet Martin also alleged that Samantha's caseworker kept records that were skeletal and inadequate. (No visits with Samantha’s social-worker had been recorded for periods as long as 14 months. Nor had Samantha been viewed by a physician for 3 years.) 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; and 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
Founder of Samantha's Law
Spokesperson for Protecting Canadian Children