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'The system failed us horribly,' say parents of Reena Virk

VANCOUVER - The father of Reena Virk wants social workers to follow their hearts and not their policy manuals.

Manjit Virk and wife Suman – the parents of murdered bully victim Reena – were the keynote speakers at the 2nd International Conference on Restorative Practices in Vancouver Tuesday and spoke openly about their family’s troubled past with the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

The Victoria couple at one point lost custody of Reena when she lied about Manjit abusing her at home.

Manjit – who was arrested over the incident – said the way social workers acted was cold in counter-productive.

“They came in and destroyed our family,” he said. “They were not even willing to listen to us.”

Of course, Manjit’s name was cleared once police discovered Reena had lied about the incident but he said it did irreparable damage to their family and led to Reena being swarmed and killed in 1997 – through her interactions with other girls in the system.

“The system failed us horribly,” Suman told the conference audience.

Manjit said social workers are over-burdened by policy and procedure and don’t have the capacity to consider individual cases.

“They looked at us like a number,” he said. “Can we look at each situation instead of a one-size-fits-all approach?”

Matt Kieltyka reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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