Mother of 2 boys killed in Wendake speaks out, says youth protection agency failed her

·2 min read

The mother of two children killed in Wendake last month is criticizing the province's youth protection system, saying her calls for help were ignored until it was too late.

Emilie Arsenault spoke publicly about the tragedy for the first time at a news conference in Quebec City on Sunday.

Fighting through tears, she called the last few weeks a "living nightmare" and said she would never recover from the loss of her children.

"I called the DPJ [directeur de la protection de la jeunesse] to protect my own kids. Why didn't they hear me?" she asked. "If I had been listened to then I might be spending my Sunday with my kids instead of crying."

Her children — Olivier, 5, and Alex, 2 — were found dead early on the morning of October 11 in a residence in Wendake, a Huron-Wendat First Nation just outside Quebec City.

Their father, Michael Chicoine, turned himself in to police following the incident and has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

A publication ban protecting the identities of the children and their relationship to Chicoine was lifted earlier this week.

Mother wonders why she wasn't taken seriously

In her remarks to reporters, Arsenault said she had been separated from Chicoine for two years and was petitioning for sole custody.

She feared for her children's safety when they were with their father and shared those concerns with the DPJ, she said.

Submitted by Emilie Arsenault
Submitted by Emilie Arsenault

A hospital social worker and a police officer also contacted the DPJ to express similar concerns, Arsenault said.

"Why weren't the social worker and the officer, who were supposed to help us, taken seriously when they made their report?" she said.

Arsenault said she once called police to prevent Chicoine from taking the children from her home. She was told that because she did not have court-ordered sole custody, there was nothing the officers could do, she said.

The children's grandfather, Jean-Guy Arsenault, also spoke at the news conference, saying his heart "broke into a million pieces" when he learned about the deaths of the two boys.

He said the entire justice system needs to be changed, pointing out that his claim to the province's victims compensation program (IVAC) was rejected.

The family's lawyer, Marc Bellemare, said they are considering all legal options right now but nothing has been decided yet.

The local health authority in Quebec City, when contacted by CBC, said that it couldn't comment on the case due to confidentiality under youth protection laws.

A spokesperson for the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale did say that they are offering their full co-operation with the ongoing investigations.

"We are acting with full transparency and we are providing the necessary information in order to shed light on this tragic situation, which is upsetting to us all," wrote Mélanie Otis.