Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C.'S Child Watchdog Asks Attorney General to Intervene in Metis Toddler Case

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C.'S Child Watchdog Asks Attorney General to Intervene in Metis Toddler Case

Article excerpt

Watchdog asks AG to intervene in Metis adoption


VANCOUVER - British Columbia's representative for children and youth is urging the province's attorney general to intervene in the case of a Metis toddler being adopted to non-aboriginal parents in Ontario.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said she is acting on advice from three leading Metis cultural experts and believes that the little girl's heritage has not been given adequate consideration.

In a letter to Attorney General Suzanne Anton, Turpel-Lafond has asked that a decision on the child's placement be delayed for about a month so full indigenous consultation can take place.

"After the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we're supposed to be in an era of reconciliation, of listening and changing how we do child welfare," Turpel-Lafond said in an interview.

"I don't think this case represents anything changed about child welfare. This is old-school child welfare, where you have a shutdown on the aboriginal viewpoint and you are not actually embracing them."

The nearly three-year-old girl has been in the care of a Metis foster mother since she was two days old. Last week, the Vancouver Island woman and her husband lost a bid to adopt the toddler in the B.C. Court of Appeal.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development removed the girl from the couple's home on Sunday and plans to move her next week to Ontario to live with the adoptive parents and her older sisters, whom she has never met.

None of the parties can be named because of a court-ordered publication ban.

The emotional case has sparked anger from aboriginal leaders. The B.C. Metis Federation has compared it to the Sixties Scoop and has joined the foster parents and birth parents in challenging it in B.C. Supreme Court.

Tony Belcourt, former president of the Metis Nation of Ontario, said in an interview that placing aboriginal children in non-aboriginal homes is "cultural genocide" and must stop.

"There's going to be a hue and cry across the country from Metis, First Nations and Inuit people about this kind of practice. We're going to fight it and we're going to put a stop to it one way or another. …

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