Trial begins for stepmother of 'Granby girl' over 7-year-old's tragic 2019 death

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Jury selection began Monday in the trial over the 2019 death of the little girl known only as the "Granby girl."

The girl's stepmother is on trial. The seven-year-old died in extremely disturbing circumstances after a report was made about her to Quebec youth protection authorities for the Eastern Townships.

She died in hospital a day after police found her in a Granby residence.

The girl's 30-something stepmother is charged with the premeditated murder of the child and with forcible confinement. She pleaded not guilty to the alleged offences and her trial is expected to last several weeks.

There's also a pending court ruling over a publication ban that could apply to all the evidence presented during the trial.

The girl's father, also in his 30s, also faces charges: negligence causing death, abandonment of a child and of having failed to provide the necessities of life. His trial may take place in 2022.

The tragedy of the girl's death upset all of Quebec, including its politicians, in the spring of 2019. It was revealed at the time that the child had been followed by the Department of Youth Protection for several years.

The Legault government announced the launch of a public inquiry to "determine the probable causes of this death and make recommendations to avoid similar deaths." The dates and location of the hearing for this public inquiry, which will be chaired by coroner Géhane Kamel, have yet to be determined.

The local health system where the little girl lived also conducted its own internal investigation, concluding that the "entire system" had failed to protect her. 

This tragedy also led Quebec to create the Special Commission on Children's Rights and Youth Protection, headed by former trade unionist Régine Laurent.

In her final report, which was made public in May, Laurent made many recommendations: the adoption of a charter of children's rights, better funding for several community organizations and a lightening of the workload of youth workers, among others.

In response to the recommendations, Quebec's Minister for Health and Social Services, Lionel Carmant, said he especially intends to prioritize "in-depth" reforms the Youth Protection Act and the deployment of preventive actions to help vulnerable children before they reach child protection services.

The minister also announced an amount of $10 million per year to improve clinical support services for foster families.

This report was first published in French on Sept. 13, 2020. It was produced as part of the Facebook and The Canadian Press News Scholarship program.

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