15-old Nick Lang died after 6 days in government care
Death of Nick Lang with RCY comment

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Nick Lang of Chilliwack died in Campbell River, British Columbia while in care


On 13 October 2015, Peter Lang spoke on Global News.

2015 is a year of annus horribilis for the Ministry of Children and Family Development (hereinafter known as MCFD) and a year of opportunities to make more money for the child protection industry (hereinafter known as the industry unless otherwise specified). The Supreme Court of B.C. handed down a scathing judgment J.P. v. British Columbia (Children and Family Development), 2015 BCSC 1216 founding misfeasance in public office and breach of fiduciary duty. Before MCFD finishes whitewashing the JP's case, Alex Gervais died after falling from a hotel window while in government care. In the midst of media spree on Gervais' death, another ministry-created atrocity in Campbell River was brought under spotlight.

15-year old Nick Lang, another child in care of Aboriginal background of Chilliwack, died after six days in government care after he entered a government-funded drug rehab program in June 2015.

Nick's parents, Peter Lang (a corrections manager) and Linda Tenpas noticed their 15-year-old son's behaviour and appearance were changing in January 2015. Nick lost weight and his parents discovered his addiction of meth quickly enough to intervene. They found an MCFD-funded substance abuse program for teens in Campbell River, where addicts stay with local families and attend a day program with the John Howard Society. A ministry worker who arrived to pick up the teenager assured Lang and Tenpas that their son would be closely monitored while he detoxed.

The boy was found dead with a shoe lace around his neck in a closet of his host family. The parents later discovered that the host family who was paid to be his caregiver was not warned about the meth addict's history or that he required constant supervision to keep safe from self harm. Lang and Tenpas say ministry staff withheld crucial information from both Nick's host family and his real family. "They didn't give us the information. Sometimes they gave us misinformation. They didn't share what they needed to share. He should have been flagged immediately with his self-harm history." When the host family found his body in a closet, in a room where he had been left unattended for 40 minutes.

Tenpas had been trying to get the worker's permission to call her son after he left a distressing voice mail. Her calls to Nick's indifferent and unconcerned ministry worker went unreturned for three days before his death, because of a heavy case load. She says by the time the worker approved her contacting the boy, he was already dead. "He just didn't care ... He robbed us of our child," said Tenpas through tears.

The BC Coroner's service confirms the investigation of the teenager's death is still underway. The chief coroner has not yet decided whether to launch a broader inquest into several similar cases. Nick Lang's parents are the third family in as many weeks to demand a public inquiry into the deaths of children in ministry care. Lisa Fraser, a Burnaby, B.C. woman, is also calling for the MCFD to review her daughter Carly Fraser's case, following her suicide a day after she was no longer in care. Meanwhile, friends and family of Alex Gervais, who died while in provincial care, are angry about the circumstances surrounding his death. They too are advocating public inquiry. The Langs are now coming together with these two families, to call for public inquiry.

hiding behind law and govt
The Lang family claims it's being intimidated by the BC government
Tonia Grace, lawyer representing the parents, said that the government is trying to shut down the Langs. Opposition NDP leader John Horgan said that government lawyer is quick to write a warning letter but not quick to advise parents the passing of their son and the issue of privacy when children die goes out the door.
B.C. premier apologizes for letter to family of dead teen
The mother of Nick Lang, a teenage boy who died just days after going into government care, is reacting to the apology she received from Premier Christy Clark. Rumina Daya reports.

Minister responses: evade the media, threaten parents, appoint former bureaucrat to review the case

After ministry-created atrocities occur, Minister of the MCFD always attracts unwanted media attention. Ruses used to divert embarrassing questions are often refusal to comment on individual cases due to privacy laws, recitation of child safety is of paramount importance, or simply not available to be interviewed. Minster Stephanie Cadieux, the political master of MCFD chose to evade at the beginning.

Evasion buys some time but is not a final solution. Politicians have to face the media one day. So more ruses are needed. Whistle blowers must be silenced. After speaking to the media, Peter Lang received a letter from the MCFD two days later. The letter warns that his son’s privacy rights were breached by Peter speaking out about his son’s case. The MCFD alleged violation of the Child, Family and Community Service Act (CFCSA) by going public and the threat of legal actions.

“I was quite surprised at how quickly it solicited a response,” says Peter. “My son was in [the care of the MCFD] for 6 days and nothing ever happened that quickly.” The teen's distressed parents claim intimidation by the B.C. Government. Peter says the most disturbing part about the letter was the fact that lawyers cost a lot of money.

“It seems they go to no end, the provincial government, to spend money on lawyers,” he says.

“I’m just telling Nick’s story in the hopes that it will enact change. He’s deceased now and [as parents], we will speak for him.”

The allegation of protecting child privacy is self-serving and backfires in this case. When parents went public on this warning letter from the MCFD, the ministry issued a written statement read:

"The notification to the parents in this case was made by counsel as a courtesy in the event they were unaware of the law in this area."

Under intense public pressure, B.C. premier Christy Clark apologized for the threatening letter to the parents and alleged that she regretted the letter was ever sent out and her government has a greater duty to citizens than that.

The next phase to protect the status quo is to retain a "friendly" external critic to review the case and write a report with recommendations. The beauty of this approach is the appearance of impartiality, accountability and transparency. A former bureaucrat Stephen Howell who had worked for the MCFD over 30 years was appointed to review the case. Howell now works as an instructor in the Criminal Justice Department at Camosun College in Victoria. According to a freedom of information request from the media, a person with the same name was awarded a $9,000 contract to do a "case review" on 17 June 2015, 8 days after Nick Lang died.

The government alleged that Mr. Howell is qualified and there is nothing wrong with his appointment. The mother believes that Mr. Howell will produce a report in favour of the MCFD. She and Peter Lang demand an independent public inquiry, but their plea falls on deaf ears.

The Howell review was completed but is not available to the public. On 16 November 2015, Global News reported that the Langs want details of the report to come to light, but it’s illegal for Peter Lang and Linda Tenpas to go public about anything in it, because it would violate the Child, Family and Community Service Act. They say they think the government is hiding behind privacy laws given that their son is dead. They are tired of the secrecy and demand an independent public inquiry.

“We need this to get out,” said Peter Lang. “There’s so much the public doesn’t know about this ministry because they hide behind privacy.”

Position of the RCY

After ministry-created atrocities occur, the media customarily interviews the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY), a watchdog and the only official critic of the MCFD. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said in a media interview that Nick should be in in-patient detox to get rid of his addiction.

In an interview with Global News on 13 October 2015, Turpel-Lafond said it appears to her that Nick was “at very serious risk” and needed further support. She repeatedly added that her heart goes out to the family in the interview (4 times in the video on the right).

“The challenge is that we do not have enough resources,” she says. “As I’ve said repeatedly, at that stage where the kids are in crisis, particularly the teenagers.”

She would like to see agencies work together to build a treatment program that meets the needs of kids. “[They] cannot be placed basically in a mom and pop foster home when they’re in active addiction and at that level of risk. They need to actually be in a hospital setting with highly-skilled staff, 24/7, probably a two-to-one ratio, to have a very supervised detox.” She adds that any death of a child needs to be fully investigated.

After the Howell review was released, Turpel-Lafond told Global News she was shocked with the contents of the Howell report, adding there may have been some records that were destroyed and there needs to be a full independent investigation conducted by her office.

Lessons Learned

  1. Destruction, omission and alteration of records that could harm the ministry are common. Evidence, assessments and reports in favour of parents are conveniently lost at critical moments of court hearings. Obstruction of justice is a norm and modus operandi in the child protection industry worldwide. The RCY Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond's finding that some records were destroyed does not surprised us.

  2. Linda Tenpas (the mother) had tried to get the worker's permission to call her son after he left a distressing voice mail to her. She described the ministry worker as indifferent and unconcerned. Her call went unreturned for three days before his death, because of a heavy case load. Tenpas' experience contradicts the allegations in the RCY publication "Representative Recognizes Social Work Week 2014" that many front-line workers work long hours, well beyond a “normal” work day, driven by their dedication to the children and youth. The RCY extended her thanks and gratitude to front-line workers in the child-serving system, and to applaud their chosen theme, “Social Workers Promoting Greater Social Equity.”

    While some child protection workers are malicious, arrogant and abusive, many are incompetent in doing real child protection work, indifferent and unconcerned to both children and parents. Most of them are union members. They are more concerned with their pay cheques and their fat pension. Most of them leave their office right at 4:30 p.m. and do not work overtime. Hear what an Alberta mother whose child died in care said in November 2013, "I think they are just working for the money. They don´t care about kids." Furthermore, why a mother would need a child protection worker's permission to call her son? Rules established by service providers in the industry are often self-serving and oppressive but at times absurd and implausible.

  3. Peter Lang was adamant that a ministry worker assured him and Tenpas that their son would be closely monitored while he detoxed. However, it turns out that ministry staff withheld crucial information from both Nick's host family and his real family. The family who paid to be his caregiver was not warned about the meth addict's history or that he required constant supervision to keep safe from self harm. The omission could be an unintentional mistake made by a sloppy social worker or an intentional concealment to ensure the ease of finding a host family. Anyhow, it is incompetence. This confirms our belief that while most child protection workers are very skilled in using children as pawns to devise schemes to sabotage unsuspecting parents, many are incompetent in doing what they are paid to do - protecting children. Trusting child protection workers often, as it turns out in this case, is a regrettable decision.

  4. It is likely that the parents of Nick Lang will sue for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of the standard of care. A Central Saanich girl who suffered severe brain injuries after being shaken by her foster mother's boyfriend in 2008 received a settlement of $13 million from the MCFD and the foster mother's insurer. This settlement gives an indication of how much state-sponsored child removal costs taxpayers. Be mindful that this is just one settlement. We guarantee that more will follow.

  5. Those who know little about MCFD are of the opinion that the benevolent ministry is there to help children in need. Good Samaritans and well intentioned citizens who seek help from MCFD could inadvertently send children to death. The Lang's death confirms that the foregoing is not a cynical statement. Blessed are those who stay away from them.

  6. Threatening whistle blowers and boat rockers with legal actions and at times removal of their children is a common practice in the child protection industry. We are unsure what section of the CFCSA the ministry is replying on to accuse the Langs of breaching privacy of their deceased child. Obviously, the purpose is to silence those who go public to uncover corruption and incompetence of the ministry. As Mr. Peter Lang said on Global News aired on 15 October 2015, lawyers cost a lot of money. Lawsuits are often used by government, who has access to the deep pocket of taxpayers, to financially punish those who stand defiant for a just cause that embarrass those in power.

    Our society had been intimidated by similar "courtesy" when we published the case of "Alleged Insanity of Ms. A of Salmon Arm, British Columbia" in May 2011. The "courtesy" was extended via the police who was investigating a complaint from the MCFD of violating Section 75 of the Child Family and Community Service Act and Sec. 3(6) of the Provincial Court Act. We have archived the e-mail from Sgt. Carlos Tettolowski sent on 8 November 2011 in the aforesaid web page. Note that CFCSA is civil in nature. The police normally will not get involved in civil matters. This is clearly an act of intimation for the purpose of punishment and exhibition of power. Anyone with a sound mind would see who they are really protecting.

    Abuse of power and all forms of duress are conceits, which further reveal their corruption, insecurity and limitations. Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. To the dismay of oppressors, such oppressive tactics often strengthen the resolve to rectify corruption and abuse of power.

  7. When government is in hot water, reviews and inquiries are often called by politicians to buy time and to create an appearance of impartiality. Retired judges and former bureaucrats who are on good terms with government are prime candidates to conduct such review. They are likely on the same wavelength with those in power. Given their background, they never challenge the fundamental merits of state-sponsored child removal. Generous remuneration is often awarded for they loyal services. The advantages of using friendly critics to write review are as follows:
    1. limit the scope of problems to avoid findings that are potentially detrimental to the industry;
    2. provide a justification to act according to a predetermined course that often subtly increases the budget and the power of service providers to improve child protection;
    3. inflate credibility, hence public acceptance, since the review is conducted by an "independent" external contractor outside government;
    4. avoid less controllable and more open public inquiry that could produce embarrassing discoveries and disastrous results;
    5. if structured properly, reduce transparency to zero (as in this case when the Howell report is not available to the public citing violation of laws) and people are kept in the dark;
    6. buy valuable time that dissipates public outrage and media focus.
  8. As in other ministry-created atrocities, service providers often hide behind government and privacy law to avoid providing more information and to answer embarrassing questions from media. It is a political way of saying "go fly a kite, I don't want to answer". In this case, allegation of protecting privacy of a dead child is nothing but a lame and hypocritical excuse. We all know who and what the industry is trying to protect.

  9. Despite their Aboriginal background, the blonde hair blue eye Nick bears little resemblance of a Native Canadian. The Langs have an Anglo-Saxon surname and probably cannot speak their Native language. This proves that child removal is an effective cultural assimilation tool during the residential school era. Of course, modern child protection is equally powerful, hypocritical and oppressive.

politician sitting on bomb
MCFD Minister Stephanie Cadieux citing privacy law in response to complaints against her ministry in Global News aired on 16 November 2015.
Lang’s parents want details of the report to come to light, but it’s illegal for Peter Lang and Linda Tenpas to go public about anything in it, because it would violate the Child, Family and Community Service Act.

They say they think the government is hiding behind privacy laws given that their son is dead.


The real culprit of this tragedy is not child removal per se but illegal drugs and the failure of law enforcement to stop the supply of harmful substances to society. Over dependence on government to solve child-related problems also contributes to the tragedy. Parents should not let government to take their children and dump them in a far away stranger's home. This will inevitably create an emotional trauma of desertion in young mind. Child protection is a parent's sacred duty. Child protection effort without willing and able parents is futile. Although we understand that many parents have to work and could not take care of children in need around the clock, parental and family support is very important to patients with addiction and other medical problems. That said, we are not pointing fingers to the parents of Nick Lang. Their tears in media interviews suggests that they are caring parents and are doing the right thing to detox their son. They acted in good faith but trusted the wrong hands. With our deepest condolence, we are sorry to hear the passing away of their loved one and bear a loss so overwhelming.

This tragedy also reveals a frightening reality - parents who send their children to get help from the MCFD could inadvertently send them to death. Ministry staff could literally get away with murders and wrongful deaths of children in care, the very subjects they are paid to protect. This is not an isolated incident. A 2012 fatality inquiry has found a disabled 13-year-old girl Samantha Martin, who died shortly after spending most of her life in foster care, was failed by Alberta's foster care system. Resources should be provided directly to parents without relinquishment parental custody to care for their children in need, not via a third party whose primary objective is to take a cut of funding.

This atrocity was caused by gross negligence on part of the MCFD. Ministry staff was fully aware of the teen's needs of constant supervision. None of his needs were relayed to his host family, which is a generic treatment facility unsuitable for Nick. As the RCY said, Nick should be in the mental health ward under the Ministry of Health, not MCFD. In retrospect, going to MCFD turns out to be a fatal mistake. Drug addiction problem was a medical issue, not a child protection matter where the parents are deemed the cause of the harm/neglect.

As of July 2015, Stephanie Cadieux has held the post for two years and 10 months. She is the longest-serving minister since the MCFD became a stand-alone ministry in 1996. As demonstrated in the news video on the left above, the Surrey-Cloverdale MLA is an expert in using privacy laws as a convenient excuse to take political cover. This skill is very much needed for the top dog presiding over a ministry with never-ending influx of heart-wrenching bad news, child deaths, abuse of power, botched cases, foster care scandals and assorted other tragedies confirming failures of state-sponsored child removal in protecting children.

In a media interview aired on 16 November 2015, Cadieux said that recommendations in the Howell report are sound and will be implemented. She added that she has not read the report because a court order prohibits her from seeing it. She repeatedly cited privacy laws to protect children and refused to comment on the death of Nick Lang. She alleged that the law does not change in terms of who can release what information when the child has died.

Hiding behind the law will backfire on her in the next election. Errors do not cease to be errors simply because they are ratified into law. Moreover, how could the Minister conclude that the Howell recommendations are sound if she has not read the report? Twisted logic of people working in the industry is often amusing. Be mindful that people of this calibre have the absolute power to remove children from their parents at will. It is like giving nuclear missile launch code to finger itchy mentally challenged kids motivated by lollipops if they press the button. We shudder at the thought.

The most disturbing ruse is the use of review in response to ministry-created atrocities. The minister is paid very well to make decisions. According to the Public Accounts 2014/15, Cadieux made $101,580 as an MLA, an additional is $50,790 salary as minister, $13,986 Capital City Living Allowance and $15,147 travel, a total of $181,503. She turns around and spends more tax dollars to hire an external contractor to write a review and implements the recommendations without reading them. Although spending $9,000 on Howell is a drop in the bucket by ministry standard, this buck passing ruse demonstrates no leadership and a lack of accountability. Why should taxpayers pay a minister who keeps passing the buck when ministry-created atrocities causing death keep occurring?

The Lang family should sue for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of the standard of care. Although no monetary compensation could beguile the grief of a loss so overwhelming, this is the only way to hold MCFD accountable for the mischief and incompetence of its employees. Like the successful lawsuits of residential school survivors, it is hopeful the government will renounce state sponsored child removal, not because of conscience but the huge financial and legal impacts resulting from the lawsuits. Furthermore, the social workers, foster home operators, the supervisor and community service manager should all be named and reprimanded. We cannot fathom how accountability and transparency be established if service providers at fault continue to hide behind government, enjoy impunity and indemnity at the expense of taxpayers.

It is likely that the RCY will write a report on this case reiterating insufficient resources for children in crisis and recommending more resources be given to service providers. Her frequently used sales pitch is spend now to save spending more in the future. More funding appears to be a universal RCY solution to all MCFD problems. She will not investigate whether money should be spent to begin with. Being in government since 1998, the RCY is used to free spending of tax dollars. In our view, too much money has been given to the wrong hands. In this case, detox is a medical problem. Nick Lang should be taken to a hospital where medical professionals could treat and supervise him. MCFD paid John Howard Society and a host family to deal with a medical problem. The latter is clearly not the best option. What is the logic behind this? Is this how children's best interests are served?

In this case, there are clearly avoidable human errors. If one counts on the RCY to hold ministry staff accountable, he will be disappointed. In the RCY publication "Editorial in the Victoria Times-Colonist on Infant Deaths", the position of RCY is clear. “Fragile Lives, Fragmented Systems” in no way lays blame on individual social workers working with the families of the 21 B.C infants who died. The key finding is that the patchwork of services and limited supports to vulnerable infants and their families in B.C. is the core of the problem. In another words, do not blame service providers, blame the system.

Lisa Fraser, mother of Carly Fraser, a former foster child who committed suicide 20 hours after her 19th birthday pleads for public inquiry
British Columbia’s Children’s Ministry has rejected a grieving mother’s pleas to review the circumstances of her daughter’s death because the teen committed suicide 20 hours after her 19th birthday and had legally become an adult.

Lisa Fraser said on 7 October 2015 at the legislature in Victoria that she wants justice for her daughter Carly Fraser and answers about the government care her daughter received in the years before her death.

A witness saw Carly Fraser jump from Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge Dec. 21, 2014, said Fraser. Her body was never found, but a journal with a final entry about her plans to jump to her death was discovered nearby.
Sara-Jane Wiens, mother of the baby girl who died in 2013 while in BC foster care, speaks to Global News about the lawsuit.
On 25 March 2015, Sara-Jane Wiens, mother of the baby girl who died in 2013 while in BC foster care, speaks to Global News about her lawsuit against MCFD.

The RCY's position was supported by the B.C. Association of Social Workers (BCASW) and the B.C. Government and Services Employees’ Union (BCGEU), which represent many of the front line MCFD employees who carry out child removal work. This is completely self-serving. How can accountability be restored, or established (since we are unsure whether it ever exists in the MCFD), if no ministry employee could be held accountable? Taxpayer indemnity must be stopped immediately. No legal costs and court awarded damages should be covered by taxpayers in lawsuits against MCFD employees and MCFD subsidiary operators. This is the only way to hold service providers accountable, not by blaming the system.

Death of Aboriginal children in government care appears to be epidemic recently. Alex Gervais and Carly Fraser are high profile cases that haunt the Ministry in 2015. Deaths of children after placed in care for a short period of time are not isolated incidents. Below are just a few cases that have gone public. Be mindful it is not unheard of that the child protection industry under reports deaths of children in foster care (such as the Alberta scandal in 2013) to conceal incompetence and lack of accountability. The actual number of deaths could be much higher.

  1. 4-month old Delonna Sullivan died in care on 11 April 2011 (6 days after removal)
  2. One-month old Manitoba foster baby Matias de Antonia died in care on 27 March 2014 (32 days after removal)
  3. Six-Week Old Dani Jean Died In Alberta Foster Home on 3 May 2013 (died 3 weeks after removal) and
  4. 21-month old daugher Isabella of Sara-Jane Wiens died in 2013 while in BC foster care

It is noteworthy to remark that there is a big time lag between the deaths and the dates that their deaths were made public. Delay in releasing information of deaths in foster care is an attempt to conceal government incompetence, negligence and breach of duty.

These tragedies confirm our view that the industry is bad news to every politician, a nightmare to parents and an unbearable burden to taxpayers who pay the costs of lawsuits and damages of wrongful deaths, misfeasance in public office and torts. Elected officials who support the industry are sitting on a time bomb. It could end their political career anytime any day. Contrary to conventional political wisdom, protecting the status quo, or worse, allocating more public resources to the racket is silly and inadvertently suicidal.

There are ample amount of empirical evidence confirming that MCFD has failed to protect children. State sponsored child removal harms more than helps families in need. No more costly review or inquiry by retired judges or bureaucrats is needed. We say in no uncertain terms that there is a plague of corruption and racketeering in MCFD. This oppressive regime will be condemned by history in due course.


[This page was conceptualized on 18 November 2015, published on 20 November 2015, last revised on 22 November 2015.]