Inquiry hears how mother made daughter swear and belittle herself

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG - The inquiry into the death of a Manitoba girl is hearing startling testimony about how harshly the girl was treated by her own mother.

A friend of Samantha Kematch says Kematch made her daughter, Phoenix Sinclair, belittle herself using swear words.

The friend, who cannot be identified under a publication ban, also says Kematch gave away Christmas presents Phoenix received in 2004 because Phoenix had been acting up.

The friend says she called Child and Family Services in early 2005 to say someone should check on Phoenix, but social workers seemed reluctant to take the matter seriously.

Phoenix was abused, neglected and beaten to death by Kematch and Kematch's boyfriend, Karl McKay, later that year.

The inquiry is looking into how Phoenix fell through the cracks of child welfare before her death at the age of five.