A photo of the mother’s hands, along with her children’s, at one of her weekly access visits. (Submitted by Jennifer ) Peggy is a reporter and editor based in Kitchener-Waterloo. Prior to landing in KW, she has worked in Beijing, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg and St. John’s, covering daily news and current affairs. Got a story idea? Email her at email@example.com or tweet her @peggylam_
A group of people in Waterloo Region has formed a "circle of support" for an Indigenous woman to win back legal custody of her children. They believe by providing her with the resources she needs, they will facilitate a "creative" way for her to reunite with her family.
"It is, in a way, creative, because it’s not a solution that’s often used by the systems, such as the child welfare system," said Wendy Newbery, an independent facilitator with Bridges to Belonging and member of the circle.
Due to a publication ban, the CBC is unable to identify the mother by her real name and therefore has provided her with the pseudonym Jennifer. Wendy Newbury is an independent facilitator at Bridges to Belonging, based in Waterloo region. She says Jennifer’s circle of support contains "an eclectic group of people." (Submitted by Wendy Newbury) Jennifer, who said she comes from the Qalipu First Nation Band in Newfoundland, is appealing a decision made by the Ontario Court of Justice, ruling her three children be permanently placed in the Canadian foster system last month. She believes her children were unjustly apprehended.
"When I got the decision, I had about a 5-to-10 minute emotional breakdown," she told CBC News.
"After that, I just went into fierce mama-bear mode and I’m just moving forward with everything because my kids are better off with me, than … where they are," she said. Long line of court battles
It’s been a long series of court appearances, legal proceedings and bureaucratic paper work for Jennifer. She said her children were apprehended in 2013, when she originally called Family and Children Services of the Waterloo Region (FACS) because she needed support with house work.
"I was a single mom and my three-year-old had bowel issues so it was kind of tricky on potty-training," she said.
"We were going to pediatricians. He was constipated to the point where he didn’t realize he was going and because of all the behavioural issues… the house kind of got neglected."
Later on, Jennifer said the agency temporary apprehended her children because it found her house to be "unsanitary."
"It wasn’t that bad," she told CBC News. "It was messy because I was a single mom." ‘It was not a parenting assessment’
Four months later, a parenting capacity assessment was ordered and according to Jennifer, the test didn’t adequately assess her ability to parent.
"It was more of an IQ [test] – they wanted me to spell words, to read certain sentences" she told CBC News. "Honestly in my opinion, it was not a parenting assessment."
Jennifer said a doctor came to one of her supervised visits to evaluate her for an hour and a half.
"At that time, I bought chicken nuggets and french fries for dinner and he put down that we didn’t use utensils," she said.
"It’s chicken nuggets and fries, I didn’t think we needed utensils for that."She said the psychologist stated that she prioritizes her needs before the needs of her children’s, and that she is ill-equipped to parent."That’s what they’re basing it on till this day still," she explained to CBC News. Karen Spencer is the executive director of Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region (Peggy Lam) FACS refused to comment on any […]
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