The Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths has now become Baby’s Breath. Our new name effectively reflects our broadened mission to prevent sudden and unexpected infant deaths and stillbirths by:
• Advocating for and supporting research
• Disseminating information
• Providing bereavement support to families
Our new updated mandate provides a critical voice to inform, direct and shape our activities as we serve and advocate on behalf of Canadian families who have experienced the tragic loss of an infant. Baby’s Breath also endeavours to support research into health or medical conditions linked to sudden unexpected infant deaths and stillbirths. We are confident that this change of identity will assist us to mobilize support and to refocus our advocacy efforts.
On July 6, 2013, seven week old Chloe Paradis was found lifeless by her mother Kayla. A nightmare beyond description for any family, but what was to follow was unimaginable in the face of such a tragedy.
Emergency crews arrived quickly and Chloe was rushed to the hospital where emergency room doctors and staff tried to resuscitate her for approximately forty minutes prior to her death being called. Chloe had arrived at emergency at 11:27am and was pronounced dead at 12:08 pm.
During those critical moments following the death of their beautiful baby, the police made no offer to allow the parents to go with their daughter or any offer of a police escort to the hospital. In fact, they were told they could not leave and were prohibited from accompanying Chloe to the hospital.
An interrogation followed with the family out on the deck for approximately one hour. During that time, they were also prevented from going into their own home to retrieve diapers and food for their other two small children. A family member arrived to take Chloe’s siblings to their home close by.
It is difficult to imagine the horror that Mike and Kayla felt, seeing their precious baby taken away in ambulance, and then being prevented from going to the hospital where heroic efforts were being made to save her. It was incomprehensible to them that they were not able to be at her side.
It was not until Chloe’s grandmother, Marlene Belliveau arrived and insisted that the family be allowed to go to the hospital that Kayla and her husband Mike were finally able to leave to be with their tiny daughter. “Hospital staff were wonderful, compassionate and demonstrated the utmost respect for our family,” stated Marlene.
But again, Mike and Kayla were treated as suspects by the RCMP once they arrived at the hospital by not being granted the dignity to privately spend time with their precious baby while police kept an officer with Chloe the entire time. The presence of the police officer in the hospital room cast an even greater assumption of guilt on Chloe’s parents. Victim Services were contacted by the RCMP, but then told to stay away from the family until police had conducted interrogations. Later that day, the parents were asked to come to the detachment where Mike and Kayla were confined and once again interrogated by police.
It was determined the following day that Chloe had died from SIDS and no foul play was found. By then the damage to Chloe’s distraught parents Kayla and Mike and other family members had been done and it was immeasurable.
Finding the police response so extremely insensitive during the initial stages of their investigation, the family has now filed a Supreme Court law suit against the RCMP involved. The five day trial is set to begin on July 20th, 2015 and alleges the RCMP violated their charter rights by false detention and false arrest. Anyone who has ever lost a child knows the brutal pain that envelops a family and while most first responders provide support and respect to grieving families in the first critical hours following a death, the treatment the Paradis family received showed a complete absence of compassion. “It began as an already terrible tragedy, but the RCMP’s action ended up causing a considerable amount of unnecessary pain,” says Marlene.
The family is the first in Canada to sue the RCMP for a situation such as this involving a SIDS death. They believe that they are unlikely the only family to have experienced a lack of compassion in the critical moments following the sudden death of a baby.
It is Marlene’s hope that the law suit will act as a catalyst for change in the RCMP. The hope is that no one should ever be subjected to such a cruel violation of their human rights. She believes that there is a way for the RCMP to maintain their responsibility to investigate a death while still treating families with respect, compassion and dignity. “It is completely possible that the humane treatment of families can co-exist during the careful examination of any infant death,” says Marlene.
The family wants their case to create a call to better educate first responders involved during the investigation of an infant’s sudden death, “Change needs to happen, and change will happen,” concludes Marlene.
Real Canadian families who have lived the unthinkable
SIDS is the number 1 cause of death in babies under the age of one. Yet little research is being done in Canada to help understand why these babies die. Hear these real Canadian families who have lived the unthinkable. Help us raise awareness, share this video.
Baby's Breath is launching a new video to help raise awareness about SIDS
SIDS remains the number one cause of death for infants under one year of age in Canada. We need to join forces and speak up. We need to speak up for our babies who fell asleep and never woke up. We need to speak up so that people realize that SIDS is a medical condition that will only be understood through medical research. We need to speak up to advocate for breakthrough SIDS research to begin in Canada. Help us share this video.