Saskatoon cop writes Sask. gov't with foster-care system concerns after teen's shooting death

A Saskatoon police officer has sent an open letter to the Saskatchewan government citing concerns with the province's foster-care system, following the shooting death of a 17-year-old.

The youth, Isaiah Brunton, was identified Tuesday by the Saskatoon Police Service as the city's second homicide victim of 2020. Brunton was found on the 200 block of Avenue S N on Saturday night, suffering from a gunshot wound.

He died Monday in hospital as a result of his injuries, police said. 

"Enough with kids like Isaiah dying," wrote Saskatoon police Const. Matt Ingrouille in a letter to Saskatoon North West MLA and Saskatchewan government cabinet member Gord Wyant. 

Ingrouille's letter, along with a link to the police's release about Brunton's death, was posted Tuesday on the Facebook page of Say Know - Drug Education Project, which describes itself as "a non-profit initiative that educates the community, professionals and policy makers through research and lived experience."

Ingrouille, who founded Say Know and its podcast of the same name, declined to comment on his letter.

"The child in this media release was a good friend of my [adopted] son's," Ingrouille wrote in the letter. "The only difference between Isaiah and [my son], was that Isaiah had no one with the support needed to succeed."

'Our foster parents aren't supported enough'

"Our foster parents aren't supported enough to handle children with severe trauma and/or FASD [fetal alcohol spectrum disorder]," Ingrouille added. 

"It's rare to read about a child in care with autism, Down syndrome or other similar disabilities dying. Yet FASD and trauma survivors are suffering from addiction, overdoses, jail and suicide at an alarming rate."

Read Brunton's full letter below. On mobile? Click here

Say Know/Facebook

A cabinet spokesperson confirmed Thursday that Wyant had received the letter. 

"The concerns expressed will be communicated to the appropriate ministry to facilitate a response.…" the spokesperson said. "We appreciate that Mr. Ingrouille has taken the time to communicate his concerns."

Ingrouille directly addressed Wyant near the end of the letter. 

"Enough with families like mine who try to help, being left completely alone," he wrote. "You are an elected official with the power to do something. Don't let me down."

Ministry responds

CBC News reached out to Saskatchewan's Ministry of Social Services for comment. 

A spokesperson said the ministry could not confirm whether Brunton was a foster child due to privacy law, but said his death was "a tragic situation."

"Our thoughts are with the loved ones, friends, family and community," the spokesperson said. 

Foster families receive training to assist them in caring for children with complex needs, including those who have been exposed to trauma and who had been prenatally exposed to alcohol, the spokesperson added. 

"The ministry recognizes the complex needs of children with FASD or severe trauma history. We have an array of services to support children and youth in care, including contracts with community organizations to provide specialized care for children with unique needs."

Police ask public for tips 

Few other details were contained in the police release about Brunton's death. No suspect has been announced. Police have appealed to the public twice for tips. 

The Saskatchewan Coroners Service was slated to conduct an autopsy this week. 

Saskatoon Police's major crime, forensic identification, and guns and gangs units are also investigating Brunton's death.