An investigation is underway after a six-year-old Victoria boy drowned while in government care.

The family of Oliver Ratchford said he was found face-down in a pond on Monday. They said he was playing unsupervised and fell in.

He was then on life support for two days but died in the hospital on Wednesday, according to a GoFundMe set up by Stephanie Paquette, a friend of the family.

The boy’s family was too distraught to talk to Global News but mom Jade did provide a statement.

“How is this child protection?” she said. “How is this right? How is this the government’s idea of what safety is?

“Our innocent, impulsive, cheerful explorer had been left alone with his sister to play completely unattended in a large yard with a pool.

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“He was found face down after being in the pond for over an hour. His heart had stopped.”

Oliver and his sister were taken into foster care on Feb. 22.


Oliver Ratchford was a sweet, smart, funny boy, a friend of the family said.


Provided by the Ratchford family


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Paquette said Oliver was sweet, funny and smart.

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“Everyone who knew him fell in love with him,” she said. “I’m just heartbroken about what happened.”


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Paquette said Oliver’s family is grieving and the last three days have been awful.

She set up the GoFundMe to help the family pay for funeral costs and anything else they might need.

Details of the case have not been disclosed.


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Grace Lore, B.C.’s minister of children and family development, said she cannot speak to the case’s specifics.

“I can say as the minister and a mom, it is my expectation and direction to the ministry that we are doing everything if a child dies in care so we understand what happened, and how it happened, so that we can take actions to ensure that children are safe and protected, whether at home or in our care,” Lore said.

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Paquette said the Ratchford family was trying to get answers about why the children were removed but there were more questions than answers.

“He was just a lovely kid and I will miss him so much,” Paquette said. “This is just unbelievable.”

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