A Nunavut judge is asking why a mother convicted of repeatedly telling her daughter to kill herself was allowed continued contact with the girl as well as custody of her own infant son.
“The nature of this offence is simply beyond the comprehension of right-thinking people,” wrote Madam Justice Susan Cooper in her decision, which was released this week. “It is only through luck and the work of medical and mental health professionals that the daughter is alive today.”
But a Nunavut official defended social workers, saying it is tough to keep people from seeing each other in small, isolated communities with tight kinships.
The 38-year-old mother, known only as L.P., was found guilty Jan. 31 in Arviat, Nunavut, of counselling her 17-year-old daughter to commit suicide.
Judge Cooper’s judgment says the mother repeatedly told her daughter she did not want her and the girl should kill herself.
The daughter made several attempts to take her life, including at least two immediately after her mother said she should. At least once, she had to be flown south for medical treatment.
L.P.’s statements came to light after her daughter revealed them to a mental-health worker, the judgment reads. L.P. was arrested and the daughter and her one-year-old brother were taken to a family member.
L.P.’s domestic partner of three years was already in custody at the time of her arrest.
The mother was released until trial under a court order to have no contact with her daughter.
However, Judge Cooper notes in her judgment that not only did L.P. and her daughter visit daily, but the little boy was returned to her care.
“The court has been advised that the daughter ‘feels safe’ when she has these visits, but this is quite different from the visits being in her best interests,” wrote Judge Cooper. “It would seem that, absent a psychiatric assessment supporting reconciliation, such contact is risky.
“While the boy’s physical health might not be at risk, it is difficult to be as confident with respect to his mental and emotional health.”