'Taken by force': Foster parents lose fight to keep Metis toddler
Published Thursday, September 29, 2016 11:53AM PDT
Last Updated Friday, September 30, 2016 1:57PM PDT
The Metis foster mother of a two-year-old Metis child plans to head to Canada’s Supreme Court to get back a family member she says was “taken by force.”
B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development is removing the girl, who can only be identified as S.S., to join her sisters in Ontario with two adoptive non-aboriginal parents.
That plan was upheld by a B.C. court Wednesday night. The family also lost a hearing to get an emergency stay in Supreme Court Thursday morning.
“The motion is undeniably a heart-wrenching decision,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Suzanne Cote in a decision released Thursday.
“The child has successfully transitioned out of the Applicants’ home and into interim foster care in preparation for her move to Ontario. Halting this process would result in unnecessary hardship for the child,” she said.
But her foster mother is saying she is not giving up, and will appeal the entire judgment.
“She’s a member of our family. When you lose a member of your family taken by force it’s incredibly upsetting,” the girl’s foster mother, who can only be identified as L.M., told CTV News.
“It’s not as if she was in a dangerous situation. She was happy. She was thriving. She was involved. She was bonded to us and to her birth parents. But there was a policy and they wouldn’t change their minds for the policy as well,” she said.
L.M. said she surrendered S.S. on Sunday, and has seen her for temporary visits this past week. But after Justice Barbara Fisher’s ruling, the child can now be taken to Ontario.
The girl’s birth parents, foster parents, and the B.C. Metis Federation all opposed the removal of the girl.
“This is the heart of this issue. We have been saying from day one our Metis children need to stay with our Metis families. This is about adopting to a non-Metis family. It’s wrong. We’re outraged,” said The B.C. Metis Federation’s Keith Henry.
He said he had written a letter to B.C.’s Minister of Children and Families to demand this removal be stopped, because there is no cultural plan to ensure the girl is raised in a Metis environment.
“You’re taking the Metis culture away from our children, yet again,” he said. “We are urging the province to stop this today.”
Under B.C. law, the ministry is the girl’s legal guardian. It has the authority to select her adoptive parents, and the ministry has said it acts in the best interest of the child.
But B.C.’s Deputy Representative for Children and Youth said the decision to move the child was not in her best interest – because the plan to connect the girl with her Metis past was not good enough.
“We felt that the cultural plan was embarrassingly weak. We’re disappointed that Metis leaders were not heard,” said Dawn Thomas-Wightman.
“We’re very resourceful people,” said the girl’s mother. “And love is a powerful motivator. We’re not giving up. We’ll find a way, because we love her.”
“She’s our daughter. What wouldn’t you do for your child? You never give up,” the girl’s father said.