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Kirby and James, both from Natuashish, died when they were 17 and spent time in foster care

Ahead of a planned inquiry into Innu children’s experience in foster care, two parents from Natuashish are sharing their separate but similar stories of teenage boys who died of exposure shortly after returning home from care.

Kirby Mistenapeo and James Poker were both 17 years old when they froze to death outside Natuashish. James died in 2015, Kirby in 2016. They both spent time outside Newfoundland and Labrador in foster care.

Thomas Poker remembers when he started to worry about James: it was when he started talking to himself.

“That’s when I knew that something is really wrong,”

Poker and James’s mother split when James was still a baby. Poker moved to Happy Valley-Goose Bay for college, and James lived with an aunt in Natuashish.Poker said.

When James was taken into the foster system, Poker was living in a dorm and not able to care for him.

After bouncing around a few foster homes in Labrador, James was placed with a family in North Bay, Ont.

Poker stayed in touch with social workers, who said James was doing well in school and was playing hockey.

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