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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Please keep e-mailing CH TV with comments regarding the discussion between Mr. Marin and Andrea Horwath! They are being flooded, but there can never be too many!




Anonymous said...

Custody granted to child abusers
Toronto agency made realization only after child died: 'We didn't check the file' on the grandparents' assault convictions, CAS director admits

National Post, Christie Blatchford, Saturday, February 22, 2003

TORONTO - Two convicted child abusers won custody of their four young grandchildren even as information about the pair's criminal records was buried in the files of the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto.

The National Post has confirmed that only after one of those grandchildren, five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin, died an emaciated shell of a little boy last Nov. 30 and a Toronto Police homicide investigation began, did the child-welfare agency belatedly discover the critical documents in their own system.

"It's in our files," a stricken Mary McConnville, the CCAS executive director, told the Post in an interview in her downtown Toronto office yesterday.

"We did not check our records," she said bluntly. "We were as astonished and as disturbed as you are when we found it."

The case preceded Ms. McConnville's takeover at the helm of the agency three years ago, but she was frank in her assessment of what happened.

"We think we have detected a significant flaw in our policies and really regret we were unaware of" the grandparents' convictions.

"We don't answer for one minute that we should not have known the histories here," she said yesterday.

Jeffrey died a month and 20 days shy of his sixth birthday when the 911 Toronto emergency centre received a call and firefighters arrived at his grandparents' ramshackle east-end home to find the boy not breathing. He was formally pronounced dead within the hour at the Hospital for Sick Children.

A post-mortem followed, but the horror of the child's life was immediately evident to the naked eye: Jeffrey weighed only 19 pounds -- three less than he had at the age of 18 months -- and resembled a concentration-camp victim, his belly grotesquely swollen, ribs prominently displayed, and skin so dessicated it hung in folds on limbs as thin as sticks. His body was also dotted with red sores and holes, his penis and tiny bum covered in scabs.

Police quickly learned that Jeffrey, and a sister who is a year older, were kept in a small locked room of the house, with nothing in it but two cribs and a small chest. While the little girl was allowed out to attend school, Jeffrey rarely escaped the bleak confines of the room, and was in such distress he would sometimes bang his head on the wall.

The homicide probe into Jeffrey's death continues, with the surviving three children now in the agency's care.

What the child-welfare agency missed in its files was clear documentation that two of the six adults then living in that house -- the two who had won official custody of Jeffrey, his two sisters and his baby brother with the implicit consent of the CCAS, which Ms. McConnville said yesterday "did not object" to the grandparents' plan -- were demonstrably dangerous to children.

Jeffrey's grandmother, 51-year-old Elva Bottineau, was convicted on June 10, 1970, of assault causing bodily harm in the death of her own baby daughter, five-month-old Eva.

A Toronto Star story of that date, headlined "Mother put on probation for assaulting her baby," reported that though Eva died of pneumonia the previous February, Toronto Police were called in when an autopsy revealed the infant had also suffered "tiny fractures of the shoulders, elbows and wrists," and that while Ms. Bottineau at first denied assaulting the baby, she later changed her story.

Due to the developing nature of child-abuse investigations at that time, and the lack of sophisticated diagnostic tools such as bone scans that only became available years later, the assault was then believed to be unrelated to the baby's death.

Modern investigations have shown that pneumonia may be linked to such injuries as rib fractures, which inhibit the ability of an infant or young child to breathe properly or cough to clear her lungs.

The prosecutor in Eva's case was Patrick LeSage, who later went on to become the distinguished chief justice of the Ontario Court, and he told Judge Crawford Guest that no purpose would be served by putting Ms. Bottineau, whom he said a psychiatrist had described as "mentally defective, but not mentally ill, and impatient and aggressive," in jail. The judge agreed and sentenced her to a year's probation

Eight years later, it was Jeffrey's grandfather's turn in court.

Norman Kidman, now in his 50s, was convicted of two counts of assault causing bodily harm on Dec. 29, 1978, in connection with assaults on two of Ms. Bottineau's children, then about five and six, by her former relationship. Mr. Kidman was sentenced to two years' probation and fined $150 for each count by Judge Walter Hryciuk.

The two children were later made Crown wards and subsequently adopted.

But Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman went on to have four youngsters of their own, one of whom presented them with the four grandchildren.

The story of how Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman won custody of those children is unclear.

As the Post revealed last December in a report about Jeffrey's death, it appears there may have been three separate court processes involved, with the grandparents gaining custody first of one child, then of Jeffrey and one of his sisters, and then, finally, their baby brother shortly after his birth.

The Catholic Children's Aid was involved, Ms. McConnville confirmed yesterday, because of "protection concerns" about the children's parents.

At one point, the children's mother was reported to the agency after she was seen shaking one of the youngsters in a welfare office.

It appears that what happened is that the grandparents came forward, with the consent of the children's parents, and sought custody privately in family court -- and that at least once, and perhaps as many as three times, the CCAS did not contest their application. "The parents were the subject of our protection concerns," Ms. McConnville said yesterday, "not the grandparents. It was the parents who were involved with us."

But, in fact, as Ms. McConnville agreed, it is not parents or prospective guardians who are the real clients in the child-welfare business, but rather vulnerable children.

"That's a perfectly legitimate question," she said yesterday, adding that in Jeffrey's case, "Here we had a record and somehow we didn't get to it."

As soon as the grandparents' histories were found in the agency's files, Ms. McConnville said, the CCAS set about finding out what had gone awry.

As it turned out, she said, "There was no policy at that time that staff check" files in cases where relatives are seeking custody of children considered at risk with their own parents -- this is what's known as "kinship care" in the child-welfare business. Jeffrey's case, Ms. McConnville said, "raises the question of whether we approach extended family differently than we do others who are trying to plan for children." It is not unusual, she said, "for family members to come forward where we have protection concerns."

Ms. McConnville stressed that "we did not knowingly place" the four youngsters at risk and emphasized that the discovery of the grandparents' criminal records came after the little boy's death. "There is a policy now," she said. "There wasn't then."

She said the agency's failure to focus on the child as the client, and not the involved adults, is one of the most troubling aspects of the case.

"It's a significant concern," she told the Post, "and it's one I've had all my years in child welfare -- that it is the child who is the client, that the child does need to be the focus of our concerns."

It is not the first time that CCAS staff have had difficulty making the distinction.

Most recently, it was another CCAS client, Jordan Heikamp, who came to public attention.

The baby was just five weeks old when in the early summer of 1997 he starved to death at a native women's shelter chock-a-block with helping professionals while under the ostensible supervision of an agency social worker.

Both that worker, Angie Martin, and Jordan's teenage mother, Renee Heikamp, were charged criminally in the baby's death, but were later discharged after a preliminary hearing.

But both women testified at length at an eight-week coroner's inquest that examined Jordan's death in the spring of 2001. Of all the evidence the jury heard, perhaps the most alarming was Ms. Martin's revelation that she believed she could never "impose" her will on the teenage mother, and her apparent belief that it was the young mother, and not baby Jordan, who was her client.

Three years before Jordan's death, another tiny charge of the CCAS was in the headlines.

This was baby Sara Podniewicz, who died gasping for breath, her lungs filled with pneumonia, in her car seat at the age of six months and 10 days.

Sara had endured 24 broken bones -- including 16 fractured ribs, broken legs and a broken arm -- at the hands of her crack-addled parents, Michael Podniewicz and Lisa Olsen, who were, two years later, convicted of second-degree murder in the baby's death.

The trial jurors learned that though Podniewicz had been convicted earlier of aggravated assault on the couple's first child, Mikey Jr. -- an attack that left the infant deaf, blind, partially paralyzed and with the permanent mental age of 10 weeks -- he was nonetheless allowed, after his release from prison, to move back in with his wife, then pregnant with Sara, and their other three children.

A condition of his parole was that he not be alone with his children unless accompanied by a "responsible adult," yet somehow, with the approval of both his parole officer and the CCAS, Olsen was approved as that person.

The agency had a worker assigned to supervise the family, and had another worker contracted from another agency to monitor the home.

These workers both testified at the murder trial, where they were questioned at length about their cheerful notes about the baby's alleged progress.

"This is extremely upsetting," Ms. McConnville said yesterday. "We have a tragedy on our hands, and the only thing we can do is try to learn from it. It's very painful."

© Copyright 2003 National Post

Anonymous said...

No excuse for child abuse


Jeffrey Baldwin had a very short life. But in those five years, he endured more mental anguish, more physical suffering, more loneliness and isolation than most of us can imagine.

The only relief from his agony came with his death. His grandmother, Elva Bottineau, and her partner, Norman Kidman, are being tried in a Toronto courtroom on first- degree murder charges in the starvation death of Jeffrey.

It's tragic that children have to suffer as much as Jeffrey did before they get any public attention.

Like rubber-neckers passing highway accidents, we read the coverage of how Jeffrey was left to starve in a cold room amid his own feces, and wonder how people could be so evil.

Then we go on with life, seemingly oblivious that other children are being abused every day in this province -- in our own community -- and we are doing precious little to stop it.

There will always be people who are so evil or so incompetent that they should never be allowed to have children. That is why we have Children's Aid Societies that have as their sole mandate the protection of children.

In Jeffrey Baldwin's case, the Catholic Children's Aid Society has a lot of questions to answer as to how it came to place Jeffrey with people who had a history of child abuse.

But Children's Aid child-care workers have also been telling government for years that they are seeing other instances where children are coming into their care and families are being destroyed, not because the parents don't love their children, but because families are literally imploding under the pressures.

There were 103,297 cases of abused children in Canada in 2003.

Most of those children were far more fortunate than Jeffrey. They lived -- although 2,814 of them were physically abused to the point where they required medical treatment, according to a recently released report of the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS).

The 103,297 substantiated cases of abuse were among 217,319 cases that were reported and investigated. Besides the cases of substantiated abuse, there were 28,053 cases where abuse was suspected, but couldn't be proven.

Among those cases substantiated, 24 per cent of the children were physically abused, 30 per cent were neglected, 28 per cent were exposed to domestic violence, 15 per cent were emotionally abused and three per cent were sexually abused.

The CIS report found that between 1998 and 2003, the rate of substantiated child abuse increased by 125 per cent.

The CIS findings mirror the Protecting Children is Everybody's Business research, which found a 70-per-cent increase in child-abuse cases investigated by the London and Middlesex Children's Aid Society between 1995 and 2001.

There really is no excuse for abusing a child.

But those who believe the answer is simply to scoop up abused children and put them into foster and group homes should consider this: The London research found that 40 per cent of kids in the care of the Children's Aid Society today had a parent who was in foster or group home care as a child.

While nearly 50 per cent of abused children come from two-parent homes, both the London and CIS research found a high incidence of children being taken from homes where the mom was the victim of domestic violence, a lack of social supports and mental-health issues.

While neglect was the most common form of abuse in the CIS study, exposure to domestic violence was second.

Jane Fitzgerald, executive director of the Children's Aid Society, says some women will stay with a partner who abuses them so long as he is not hitting the children.

She said women will make that sacrifice, believing it's best for their children, without the knowledge that children who witness their moms being beaten are as emotionally damaged as if it was them being punched and kicked.

"The bruises just don't show," Fitzgerald said.

But women and children should not be required to trade safety for a life of poverty and despair.

For example, it's not enough to build shelters to temporarily house women and children who are abused; they also require long-term safe, affordable housing.

There has to be quick access to mental-health treatment programs for those parents and children who require that help. They need to be able to upgrade their education or training if they're going to be able to support themselves.

We have a responsibility to protect children, and in cases such as Jeffrey Baldwin's that means removing them far away from those who would hurt them.

But in other cases, the solution is not to remove the child from the home, but to remove the risk. It means not simply pointing to a family's weaknesses, but building on their strengths.
Helen Connell is executive director of the United Way of London and Middlesex.
Her column appears every other Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Children's Aid Must Protect kids at Risk

The trial of Torontonians Elva Bottineau, 54, and Norman Kidman, 53, in the death of their grandson, five-year old Jeffrey Baldwin, raises many questions about the Catholic Children's Aid Society (CCAS) of Toronto. A child is dead after being placed in the care of his maternal grandparents. The CCAS, which removed Jeffrey in the first place, must bear some responsibility in this tragedy. They are legally in charge of enacting child protection laws under their mandate and would have made some type of recommendation about this case. Also disturbing is the notorious Edith Sanders abuse case in London. Imagine having been adopted by a torturer who ended up being Canada's oldest female inmate, escaping a terror comparable to a concentration camp, including the fact the victims were ruthlessly branded with an "E" on their arm, and having to fight in a courtroom for years to get justice.

The abuse and torture profoundly affected many lives; the damage is incredible. A woman adopted by her, Kim Campbell, as well as the daughter of Sanders, and a woman kept as a slave, endured a long battle. It took decades for Sanders to be held to account. She was sentenced in her 80s to four years in prison. Superior Court Justice Edward Browne, who presided over the case, described it has having featured the most appalling evidence he had heard in 40 years.

Sanders died in September 2004, but litigation asking for responsibility by both the London police and the London Children's Aid Society remains. Campbell is in her late 40s and survived her own horror show of abuse, as well as witnessing the savage abuse of Beatrice Feick, the woman kept by Sanders as a slave. Feick is in many ways an older version of Jeffrey Baldwin, the difference being she is alive, which is amazing considering the tortures inflicted on her. The fact that an evil torturer was allowed to foster and adopt children or even raise her own, is incredible. The fact that a couple who had a history of child abuse had custody of Jeffrey is even more incredible. In both tragedies is a much larger issue: Where is the responsibility of Children's Aid Societies?

Bill 210, introduced by the provincial Liberal government, has made various recommendations for changing adoption, fostering and child welfare. I support some of these changes in addressing the needs of children. Of concern is Section 68, which reframes the process of official complaint procedures against a Children's Aid Society, nullifying the few mechanisms of complaint against them.

Numerous groups want the CAS to be more accountable, considering the volumes of other abuse cases historically, as well as those that continue to come to light. John Dunn, president of the Foster Care Council of Canada, is one of many who are concerned. Dunn has said the section removes responsibility from these agencies, leaving victims to complain to the perpetrators. Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin recently approached the standing committee on social policy concerning Bill 210 to ask for investigative powers to oversee complaints regarding the Children's Aid Societies of Ontario. Anyone who is concerned about such serious cases of abuse should consider supporting the recommendations by the ombudsman. A petition to urge the government to give the Ontario ombudsman authority to investigate the CAS can be found online under the Foster Care Council of Canada.

It would be unconscionable for the government to remove responsibility from these agencies for ensuring child safety. It is a sad commentary when children are dead and others will suffer years of trauma due to the failure of the system. More sad is that both of these horrific tragedies could have been prevented in the first place. As a society, we have a responsibility to protect children - and so should the very agencies specifically designated for this purpose.

Anne Patterson is a London freelance writer.

Published in the London Free Press Newspaper, Friday February 3, 2006 - under Opinion Pages page A9 - copied exactly as printed.
Please note the article is not available online. Replies can be sent to Letters to the editor:

Anonymous said...

Client's mental health behind boy's death: lawyer
Updated Mon. Jan. 16 2006 11:40 PM ET News Staff

The grandmother of five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin, who died of starvation, is extremely mentally deficient and therefore cannot be held accountable for his death, Defence Lawyer Anil Kapoor said in his closing arguments on Monday.

Elva Bottineau, 54, and her 53-year-old common-law husband Norman Kidman are charged with first-degree murder in the death of their grandson. Both have pleaded not guilty.

"Elva Bottineau did not perceive the seriousness of the situation," Kapoor said. "She did not perceive he was dying. Certainly there was no plan to starve him to death."

Kapoor said Bottineau's intelligence level is lower than 98 per cent of the population, preventing her from dealing with problems or events normally.

He also said that the five-year-old was no good to her dead since she viewed the boy as a paycheck, receiving child benefit cheques from the government.

"She wanted to keep him alive to collect the money," Kapoor said. "That alone is enough to question reasonable intent."

During their trial, which lasted almost three months, a University Avenue courtroom heard how Jeffrey and one of his sisters were allegedly locked in a room for hours on end, denied both water and access to a washroom.

The young boy, who weighed 21 pounds, died of starvation and pneumonia on Nov. 30, 2002.

Kidman's lawyer, Bob Richardson, said that his client is only guilty of not doing anything to help the boy. He said that taking care of the children was Bottineau's job and that Kidman rarely interacted with the kids.

If Bottineau and Kidman are found guilty on the charge, they will face automatic life sentences with no chance of parole for 25 years.

With files from Canadian Press

Anonymous said...

I just sent my comment to CH TV and my husband has too! Let's keep the momentum going!!

Anonymous said...

Verdict in starved child case expected soon


TORONTO (CP) - The fate of two grandparents accused of abusing and starving a five-year-old boy to death was placed in the hands of a judge Tuesday after a lengthy trial that shocked and angered spectators.

Relatives of victim Jeffrey Baldwin left the courtroom brimming with emotion after Crown lawyer Bev Richards urged the judge to convict Elva Bottineau, 54, and Norman Kidman, 53, of first-degree murder. One of Jeffrey's cousins clutched a ball of tissue as she left court with the boy's paternal grandmother, Susan Dimitriadis.

"I feel like I'm still grieving - there hasn't been closure," Dimitriadis said after leaving court, her voice quavering at times.

"But once this is done, hopefully it'll be a righteous verdict and they'll get the proper sentencing to it. It won't bring Jeffrey back and it won't help my other grandchildren (who) are still . . . having to cope with what happened to them and their little brother . . . but there'll be a little bit of closure."

Court heard from roughly 40 witnesses who detailed Jeffrey's brief but tortured life, one largely confined to a locked, unheated bedroom that reeked of urine and feces.

Jeffrey weighed just 21 pounds when he died of starvation and pneumonia in November 2002, just weeks shy of his sixth birthday.

Richards attacked suggestions by the defence that Jeffrey's maternal grandparents were either too dim-witted or too indifferent to have consciously planned a slow demise that resulted in a skeletal child so weak he couldn't lift his own head.

"Mr. Kidman and Ms. Bottineau viciously abused their position of trust and dominance over a protracted period of time," Richards said.

Kidman and Bottineau have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Jeffrey's death and the forcible confinement of his sister.

Two other children in the home were considered "the good kids" and encouraged to ridicule Jeffrey and his sister, court heard. Jeffrey's siblings cannot be named by court order.

Richards said Jeffrey's sister was also abused and so starved by the time she escaped the house that she resembled a Third World starvation victim with skinny limbs, a distended belly and open sores.

Jeffrey, meanwhile, was "treated like a dog." Court heard he was often so thirsty he would drink from the toilet bowl, and he was ordered to sit in what was called "the pig corner," where he would eat his food from a bowl with his fingers.

"I have so much heartache right now over this," Dimitriadis said once all the evidence had been brought in.

"I can never forget what my grandson went through. I can't even comprehend what he went through, the horrible way he died and the suffering and the way the other children were treated."

Justice David Watt said he expects to return a verdict in the judge-only trial on Feb. 16. He could also find the accused guilty of the lesser charges of second-degree murder or manslaughter, or acquit them entirely.

Bottineau's lawyer said his client never intended to kill Jeffrey and is so mentally deficient she cannot be held responsible for murder. Anil Kapoor said the woman's intelligence is considered to be below that of 98 per cent of the population and that she does not perceive events in the same way as an average person.

Kidman's defence lawyer blamed Bottineau for being the principal abuser, and argued that Kidman rarely interacted with the children at all and left the child-rearing to his common-law wife.

But Richards said each grandparent beat the children and that Bottineau knew Jeffrey would die if left unfed.

The couple gained custody of Jeffrey from Bottineau's daughter in 1998.

Anonymous said...

Reports missing in boy's murder case
30 lost files could embarrass Catholic Children's Aid Society
One may have endorsed grandparents as foster parents


The trial of two grandparents facing murder charges in the death of 5-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin has been delayed after it was revealed in court that more than 30 files compiled by the Catholic Children's Aid Society on the case are missing.

Some of the apparently lost files could be embarrassing for the agency. One, for instance, described the grandmother, Elva Bottineau, as a child-care worker approved by the agency, the court heard yesterday.

Another key file contained information on an apparently favourable "risk assessment" that was done by the society on the suitability of the grandparents — Bottineau, 54, and her 53-year-old common-law husband, Norman Kidman — to be foster parents.

They were awarded custody of Jeffrey and his three siblings after their mother — the couple's daughter — was suspected of abusing them. Both have pleaded not guilty to one count each of first-degree murder in the child's death on Nov. 30, 2002.

The society had been ordered by search warrant to turn over about 240 relevant files, but as prosecutor Beverley Richards explained to Justice David Watt, some of those files were never given to the Crown's office. The number could be as high as 40, she said.

Sounding exasperated at times, Richards explained to Watt that she and co-Crown prosecutor Lorna Spencer were also having trouble interviewing some officials with the society, after being told that the agency was in the midst of moving to a new office.

"I couldn't care less how inconvenient it is for them," Watt said. "We have been unreasonably accommodating and maybe it is time we stopped."

Earlier, the trial had been delayed several days to give the society time to gather up relevant files for the case. The latest delay means court will not resume until Monday as the hunt begins for the missing files, which were listed on a 20-page search warrant inventory, the court heard.

Those files described in court apparently contradicted other agency files that were turned over to police. One missing report described Bottineau as an "incompetent parent" after she had three children with a cousin in her first common-law marriage, the court has heard.

That report said Bottineau was a danger to herself and others, and showed no desire to improve herself and become a better parent. Both Bottineau and Kidman have criminal records for child abuse, which was noted in another society file on the couple.

Jeffrey died from septic shock, his frail body weakened by hunger and afflicted with bacterial pneumonia he got from sleeping in his own bodily wastes in his locked bedroom.

In earlier testimony yesterday, a 13-year-old neighbour told the court that every time he saw Jeffrey when he visited the house the boy was wearing diapers.

Zachary Noseworthy testified he thought Jeffrey's bedroom was a closet because the door was "always locked," while the doors to the other bedrooms were "always open."

His mother, Jennifer Noseworthy, was next on the stand, testifying that once when she visited the house she found Bottineau in the basement, bathing Jeffrey and a second grandchild in the laundry tub.

Under cross-examination from Bottineau's lawyer, Nicholas Xynnis, Noseworthy agreed that Bottineau had told her it was difficult for her to handle Jeffrey and his three siblings, at one point suggesting that Noseworthy adopt Jeffrey because she knew he would get good parents.










Anonymous said...

I just sent my comments to CH TV!

Anonymous said...

It is no wonder the Liberals do not want to take responsibility considering the lawsuit, which involved the CAS agencies of Ontario forcing innocent parents of special needs children to surrender them, really how evil is that?

On May 13, 2005, the Ontario Divisional Court released its decision in the appeal of Larcade v. Ontario and certified the lawsuit as a class proceeding.

This lawsuit, launched on May 8, 2001, seeks damages of $500 million for all families who have suffered because the Ontario Government failed to meet its legal obligation to provide services for severely disabled children. These services were to have been provided under Special Needs Agreements issued by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, or through local Children’s Aid Societies.

Sometime in 1997, the Ontario Government unilaterally stopped issuing Special Needs Agreements and forced an unknown number of families to surrender custody of their special needs children in order to access life-saving services.

In June 2003, Justice Cullity of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, dismissed the application for certification of this class action. The Representative Plaintiff’s appeal from Justice Cullity’s decision was heard by the Ontario Divisional Court on March 29 and 30, 2005. On May 13, 2005, the Divisional Court overturned Justice Cullity’s decision and certified the lawsuit as a class proceeding.

For further information on this class action, please contact Brenda Shiach at or 416 362 1989.

Anonymous said...

Child advocate won't be muzzled


Source: Toronto Star

Ontario's 13-year child advocate Judy Finlay, who has been highly critical of the government's treatment of young offenders and youths with disabilities, says the Tories are trying to muzzle her. She says if she leaves now, the office will be dismantled.

Nobody pushes Judy Finlay around, especially the Ontario government.

Finlay, who as the child advocate is charged with protecting the rights of some 23,000 children in the province's care, says the government can huff and puff all it wants, but it won't blow her office away.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Star yesterday, a feisty Finlay said she has no intention of signing a contract that would effectively eliminate her independence and destroy her ability to protect the most vulnerable children in our society.

"Since 1996, six children have died in group homes or institutions in Ontario," she said. "The rate of one death per year of children in care is unprecedented.

"All of these deaths were avoidable and unnecessary."

Finlay is currently investigating a seventh death, which occurred at the Toronto Youth Assessment Centre. An inquest is expected in the fall in the case of 16-year-old David Meffe, who hanged himself at the institution last November.

She says she had warned the government about the dangerous conditions at the detention centre a year before the death.

"I was beating my breast about TYAC, but the government wasn't making any progress in addressing the conditions," she said. The Ontario government may pay her salary, but "the children are my clients."

Finlay has been child advocate for 13 years, but it is only now that she believes she has to take the government on in public to protect her office. The contract she is refusing to sign would allow the Ministry of Community, Family and Children's Services to oversee her investigations of its treatment of children under its charge. The contract orders her to submit all her reports, findings and press releases to the ministry for approval before they can be released.

She believes the contract is being forced on her as payback for her involvement in two embarrassing and costly lawsuits against the government.

Last fall, the government agreed to pay almost $1 million to 12 young men who say they were abused during a night of violence that began at Bluewater Youth Centre in Goderich and ended at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre in London. The incidents took place during a public-service strike six years ago.

A second, ongoing lawsuit has 2,000 parents of severely disabled children suing Ontario for $500 million, alleging they were forced to give up custody of their kids in order to get the care the children desperately needed.

The issue has become a hot potato at Queen's Park, with the opposition attacking the government for trying to muzzle Finlay, whose office employs 10 children's advocates across the province. Premier Ernie Eves has denied there is any wrongdoing. Brenda Elliott, minister of community, family and children's services, declined to comment yesterday, but a spokesperson for the ministry said the contract row is merely "a human resources issue."

Finlay said she has no plans to resign and doesn't think the government will fire her. She said she refuses to be bullied, believing the independence of her office may mean saving the lives of some of the children she is charged with looking after. In other cases, it may mean saving entire families.

More than 100 families were forced to give up custody of their children because it was the only way the province would pay for the children's care, Finlay says, adding it can cost as much as $200,000 a year to care for a severely disabled child.

Families decided to sue the province after a series of stories in the Star detailed how the Harris government had eliminated a mandated program to provide funding for disabled children's care as a cost-cutting measure. That left families with no choice but to give up their children to children's aid societies to get them the proper care. In the Star stories, Finlay's office criticized the province for its harsh treatment of parents.

"I think that people should be outraged that parents are having to give up their severely disabled children in order to get them the treatment they need," Finlay said.

Over the past several years, Finlay has written more than 50 reports, most of them highly critical of the government.

Her most disturbing findings included the excessive use of force in handling young offenders, and the use of dangerous physical and chemical restraints on youths with disabilities. She also highlighted poorly equipped facilities where bed sheets cover the windows and exposed light bulbs pose safety hazards.

She also noted that children in some institutions are forbidden from playing outside because of noise complaints from neighbours.

Her work has made her a target outside government offices as well.

In the past three years, Finlay has been victimized by vandals, and harassment by a stalker forced her to move from her downtown home to a suburban location. Sugar has been poured into her gas tank and a dead squirrel thrown on to her porch.

Despite the harassment, Finlay is resolved to remain on the job until she can safely pass the torch on to another advocate. She is pushing to be given the autonomy that will allow her to report directly to the Legislature instead of to the ministry.

"If I leave now, the government will dismantle this office," she said. "So I'm not giving up."

Anonymous said...


National Association for Public & Private Accountability

Rev. Dorian A. Baxter, National Chairman

416 Devanjan Circle, Newmarket, Ontario

L3Y 8H5

Telephone (905) 853-0316 Fax (905) 853-0533

Jan 21, 1998.

Dear Members of Provincial Parliament

The National Association for Public and Private Accountability, N.A.P.P.A., requests your indispensable support to assist us in our endeavour to bring an end to the needless injustices being perpetrated by so many branches of the Children's Aid Society against so many families. The main goal of N.A.P.P.A. is to bring accountability to individuals and institutions guilty of violating the rights and freedoms of Canadian citizens.

There is a growing sense of outrage amongst the people of our great land. No longer are we prepared to stand by while others suffer the unbelievable torment some Children Aid Societies have inflicted upon their families in general and their children in particular. The time has finally come for the madness to be restored to sanity. Individuals and institutions that are clearly found guilty of negligence, incompetence and malicious prosecution must be held accountable for their actions. We need to remember the great importance of those immortal words, "All that is required for evil to triumph over good, is for good people to do nothing". Similarly it is imperative that we recognise the truth in the very sobering statement, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely!"

We, in this magnificent country of ours, are tired of political impotence in the face of tyranny. Whilst we have many fine judges and lawyers across the nation, we remain in the vice-like grip of the "Legal System" that embraces an adversarial approach whilst paying shallow lip service to such concepts as mediation, joint custody and access, and overall justice for children and their families. Too many families are being pillaged and plundered as homes and relationships are ripped to pieces by litigation that takes much too long and offers much too little.

My concerns outlined herein are not just the vain musings of a disgruntled citizen, but rather they come fresh from the crucible of personal suffering over the 11 years, 2 months and 11 days it took me to become the first Canadian in legal history to successfully sue a Children's Aid Society. In July of 1996 the Ontario Court of Appeal unequivocally found the Durham Children's Aid Society guilty of the grossest negligence, gross incompetence and malicious prosecution.

Judge Sommers described the behaviour of the social worker Ms. Marion Van den Boomen in particular and the agency in general as "utterly reprehensible". In all likelihood you may well be familiar with my case, which was published in over twenty newspapers across Canada as a moral victory and a pathetic, pyrrhic financial victory. The whole immoral and sordid action by the C.A.S. cost me in excess of $380,000 and my final pathetic award for damages was a pitiful $70,000 and the indignity of personal bankruptcy. Today I stagger under the financial burden of owing in excess of $300,000!

Whilst my life was all but destroyed (thankfully I did win sole custody of my two precious daughters in Jan of 1987), the social workers along with many others responsible for similar injustices continue to work with impunity and in some cases are promoted. The cost to the taxpayers for my case alone was well over a million dollars. The fact that social workers who have caused such needless cost and brought such needless pain and suffering continue to work for the C.A.S. is clear evidence that the system as it now stands is utterly broken.

As our elected members of parliament, we look to you to fulfil the mandate you have been given by helping us to usher in a new era of checks, balances, and accountability. An era where the needs of our children and families will be placed first in word AND in deed. An era where justice and mercy will prevail and the families of Ontario will cease to be ravaged by the unbridled adversarial system that encourages the complete and utter annihilation of the family unit. An era where the families of Canada will be allowed to blossom and flourish.

It is time that the Ontario government put into place an independent citizen's organisation to oversee the C.A.S.. We ask the government not to throw away any more taxpayer dollars at these agencies. We would, instead, ask that you provide funding to establish an independent civilian watchdog organization. This is the only way to cut the horrendous costs caused by needless litigation involving the separation of children from their families, which results in appalling costs to the government of Ontario.

Our organization would be pleased to meet with government representatives to discuss such an initiative. We could have a pilot project set up and operational within weeks if given a clear mandate and the necessary funding to implement our solutions. An outside and independent organization with a very small budget, free from the bureaucracy currently within the CAS could put an end to the needless suffering of families while significantly reducing the operating costs of such agencies. We feel that such a body could save the province of Ontario hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars annually.

We would very much welcome an invitation from the government to be part of the process to make our system of child protection the best and most cost efficient in the world.

In conclusion we would draw attention to the attached copy of the Ontario Children's Aid Watch Report. This, along with other similar publications, is put out by the citizen's across the province. It is a clear manifestation of the growing unrest with regard to injustices being perpetrated upon the lives of innocent Canadians.

We thank you for your attention to our very serious concerns and we look forward to your early response.

Respectfully and sincerely yours,

The Rev. Dorian A. Baxter B.A., O.T.C., M. DIV.

National Chairman

Anonymous said...

Niomi Pearson, CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, March 02, 2006
PORT ALBERNI -- A mother grieved the death of her six-year-old daughter with her other children Wednesday afternoon, knowing that only hours later all but one would be taken back into foster care.
It was in a foster-care setting where the young girl Dion died Tuesday and in which six of Teresa's seven living children have been placed.
She was always happy, energetic, tries real hard and she's got this look on her face that lights up everybody," Teresa said of Dion who was residing in a foster home at Sproat Lake. Her 11-year-old sister and two-year-old brother were also in the home.
"I heard that she was sick and they put her to bed that night and the foster mother left her husband there to watch the other ones," she said. "When (her older sister) went in to check on her, she was burning up and she called the husband (of the house) and he checked her temperature and he said it was at 41."
Teresa said Dion was taken into the living room but was not breathing at that point when the ambulance was called.
"They figure she had a seizure or two while she was sleeping . . . and never woke up."
The Port Alberni office of the Ministry of Children and Family Development refused comment but the Victoria branch issued a statement Wednesday.
"We have been advised of the death of a child in the Port Alberni area," it read. "Although very tragic, at this point there is nothing to suggest the death is at all suspicious. The coroner will now look at all of the factors and determine whether an autopsy will be performed."
After spending the night with their mother, the children, ranging in ages from one to 14, were returned to their foster homes. The two that were living with Dion were relocated to a new foster family.
While Teresa said she is relieved that they will not return to the Sproat Lake home, it is little consolation.
"It's going to be hard on them," she said. "They won't trust anybody now at all after what happened."
B.C. Coroners office spokeswoman Lisa Lapointe confirmed that an investigation is underway but could not determine when a report would become available.
Dion, who was born with the umbilical cord around her neck, has had seizures in the past, her mother said. But she was not in foster care at the time.
"The second time she had a seizure, she almost passed away but we got her to the hospital in time," she said.
"We tried to explain to them that when Dion gets sick, you have to take her to the hospital right away otherwise she'll end up with a seizure but they waited until it was too late."
According to Teresa, seven of her eight children were taken into custody due to unkempt living conditions. At 16 years, the oldest, chose to stay with her mother. "It's because of the bad place where I was living, they figured I wasn't a very good mother," she said.
Teresa's next court appearance is set for May 1 but she and her family are determined to get the children back sooner.
"I'm getting them back, not another day, right today because this has gone on too far. No foster homes are good enough for my nieces and nephews," said an aunt. "I've lost one niece now and I don't want to lose any more."
Niomi Pearson, CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, March 02, 2006
Because she does not live on a reserve, Teresa's case was not handled by USMA, the organization affiliated with the Sherry Charlie case. Sherry Charlie's 2002 death prompted a recent judicial inquiry.
Under the child, family and community service act, neither foster parents nor social workers may disclose information obtained through their work. The exceptions are when disclosure is necessary to ensure the safety or well-being of the child or made to foster parents where the information relates to a child in their care.
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2006

Anonymous said...

Dark Past, Bright Future

The Toronto Star

Apr. 6, 2003

An abuse survivor rebuilds his life and strives to change a system that fails to protect children

Douglas Dane

Special to the Star

Before I was born, I was set up for abuse. Born in October, 1963, to a woman who had already abandoned three children to the child welfare system, I was placed for adoption into an abusive environment by the Children's Aid Society, a sanctioned agency that is mandated to protect children. The placement could not have been more wrong.

In a time when our national news is riddled with examples of childhood abuse, when we should have the resources to provide guaranteed safe havens for children, my story must be told. It is not good enough to shake our heads, pour out a small amount of disgust, then move on to brushing our teeth before we turn out the light and forget. -->

Stories like mine need to be placed before our consciousness until we, as a society, take responsibility. Complacent, aging bureaucracies and under-stimulated consciences must be revitalized before more lives are lost to physical or emotional death, crime and the perpetuated cycle of abuse. The myth that we do all we can to protect children needs to be seen for what it is.

I am stepping forward " with fear, anger and hope " in the belief that my story can make a difference. I believe that others will relate to it, that a collective voice can make a difference and that there are good people within a decaying, top-heavy system who will muster the courage to do what they know they should.

In my case, I have learned through interviews with the Children's Aid Society in Waterloo Region and through files received through the Freedom of Information Act that grave errors were made. I was placed poorly and monitored dismally. Later, when police investigations and child welfare intervention were necessary, both failed me.

So I pose the question: In the many situations of abuse that were part of my life, who was responsible? My adoptive parents? The child welfare system? The police? Or was it just me?

That last question, unfortunately, is what the child internalizes. Like other victims of childhood abuse, I took on the blame and the shame. Therein lies the crux of my story — that the damage done to children's psyches and souls, in a society as liberal and as enlightened as Canada's, is entirely preventable.

I was adopted as a 6-month-old baby. The parents chosen for me were both alcoholics. Relatives knew. Friends knew. They had also been approved for a child eighteen months previously; he was adopted as a newborn. We became brothers.

From what I have gathered within the past year, it was the most rudimentary of home studies, yet it would have been simple to unearth that my parents were alcoholics who should never have been given the gift of one child, let alone two.

Instead, case notes indicate my father was "passive but quietly friendly and congenial" and that my mother "lacked the social graces of a very feminine woman." This man, whom the system turned into a father of two vulnerable boys, abused not only his own body, but that of his equally abusive wife. This woman, whom the system turned into a mother, abused her body, her husband and her two adopted sons.

Every day was a ritual of abuse and survival permeated by the stink of stale beer and cigarettes amid the squalor of a living room turned into my mother's bedroom. My dad had to have a lock on his bedroom door because my mom, drunk and violent every day, would instigate fights with him.

The grind was the same: Get up, go to school, come home for lunch. We weren't allowed to stay in the safety of the school. No, filled with the dread of what might lie ahead, we had to return to our mother at "home." Then it was back to school and "home" again for more.

Often, my brother and I would be assigned bizarre, crazy-making chores. On one occasion, my mother made me paint the living room to cover up the beer and bloodstains on the walls from her fights with my father. Other times, I would have to roll cigarettes for her while she ran around the house yelling and screaming.

Child welfare records bring that life back hauntingly for me. When I was 6 years young, notes were made by social workers because my mother had "suffered a nervous collapse." The child protection worker observed that "the home situation had deteriorated over the past few weeks ... Mr. Dane had been drinking quite heavily and beaten his wife. She had charged him with assault." There are notes that foster care was needed, that "the worker saw Mr. Dane as being burdened with troubles of the world" and that "Mrs. Dane had a previous mental breakdown two years earlier."

My brother and I were placed in a foster home on a farm for the summer and part of the fall. We liked the foster parents, but missed our dog Mitzi. Case notes indicate that there were six contacts during that time — two with our father, two with our mother and two with both parents.

And then this: "Mrs. Dane returned home on Oct. 28 and the boys were returned. Mr. Dane had endeavoured to remain away from his drinking and Mrs. Dane had endeavoured to maintain some stability in trying to work out the marriage. The boys were involved in the Scout program and hockey and Sunday school. Case was closed Jan. 28, 1971."

That was it, tidily worded and tucked away in the archives. Euphemisms work wonders! On paper.

In reality, as we advanced in age and collective misery, the daily rituals mutated into greater darkness.

After school, we'd wait, often outside because of Mom's drunkenness, for Dad to get home from work. My brother and I would stay out long enough for Mom to pass out drunk so that we'd be able to get in the house safely.

On worse nights or on weekends, we'd sit locked in Dad's room to be safe from Mom when she came yelling and pounding on the door. If she did get a hold of Dad, the fights would be bloody.

Police visits became the norm for our neighbourhood. Shame became my most constant companion.


`Two boys abandoned by the agency that found a mother figure for them'


At least once a week, I ended up running away, coming back after midnight when I knew she would be passed out. At times, I stayed overnight at a safe home, with neighbours. Our neighbours were our guardian angels.

When I was 12, the Children's Aid Society was once again called in to assist — this time by my mother. Again, they did nothing substantial to intervene and protect my brother and me.

Case notes state that she wanted information on counselling and that she "sounded very agitated, possibly inebriated. The children are finding the situation quite upsetting."

That's all there is: two boys abandoned by the agency that found a mother figure for them. Tokenism. A brief note to file. Case closed.

Finally, one day, I was old enough and strong enough. When I came home from school, my dad was in the basement and my mom was starting to beat on him. I put her in a headlock, carried her upstairs and threw her out the side door. Locking her out, I called the police.

As they were putting her in the cruiser, she yelled to the police and the neighbours: "My son tried to murder me." I was 13 years old.

There was a final note on this from the child welfare agency: "Mrs. Dane's alcoholism is getting worse and she left the home on July 8. Mr. Dane met with a worker and seemed to be looking for a way to keep her out of the home now that she had left. Mr. Dane (was) advised to seek legal counsel."

Period. Case closed again.

With my mother gone, I could run the streets. Now a broken, sober man, my father suffered from the effects of alcoholism, bad memories of his World War II experiences, and feelings of failure as a man and a father. And so it was that I fell into the clutches of a ring of sexual predators.

Four Kitchener-Waterloo men corralled 23 boys and persuaded us that our relationship was love. That's how desperate we were. That's how perverted they were. Two years of abuse culminated in my kidnapping, when they took me to Halifax. I was 15.

I found my way home a week later. Soon afterwards, the police — two giants in uniform — presented what they knew and conducted a brief interview to gather more facts. Then they were gone. They didn't talk to my father or brother. They left me alone to carry the burden of shame.

In the copies of police reports I obtained, entire sections were whited out to protect the privacy of others involved. All I could see were a few typed notes of the interview with me and vague "footprints" left by the Children's Aid Society, the photographs that were seized, and the name of the stereo store and the Boy Scout troop the predators were involved with. (The four men were convicted on various sex charges in 1980 and received short sentences.)

More secrets, more shame!

I quit high school three times. In my heart, I knew I should stay in school, but I couldn't do it. In spite of my high marks, I followed the path that had been laid out for me by the people who had abused me and by the authorities and professionals who had failed me.


`I could run the streets ... I fell into the clutches of a ring of sexual predators'


The next 15 years were the toughest. I tried almost every drug possible and broke free only because the altered state inflamed my feelings of inadequacy and shame. I was fortunate enough to experience the pain and paranoia caused by doing drugs, and thus saved from disappearing into the sinkhole that childhood trauma often leads to. Searching for validation through success, I worked at a number of jobs, failed at businesses, went bankrupt and finally landed on my feet. I married twice and divorced twice. The feelings of being unaccepted and unsure of myself ate away at me. Little, dark, nasty, blathering voices always danced at the back of my consciousness.

Both my parents are gone now. I have survived the loss of a mother four times: my birth mother's abandonment, my eviction of my adoptive mother, my adoptive mother's death from cancer two years ago and my birth mother's unwillingness to acknowledge me as her own now.

In therapy, I have worked on dealing with my losses and the aftershock of childhood abuse. Some people who have made a difference in my life — neighbours who cared, one cop who wanted to protect abused kids, a few teachers who made an impact, and two wives and their families who were good people — were like delicate lilies along that path to healing.

Now I am successful in business and financially secure. I have found four natural siblings and my birth mother. And I am at long last beginning to see purpose in my life and to live in peace. Someone, somewhere once astutely said: "The average person tiptoes through life, hoping to make it safely to death." Something inside me — call it what you will, soul, self, truth, God — has sometimes nudged and often propelled me along the right path.

I am in the awesome process of finding the love and the beauty in conscious living. The furtherance of my dream is that I may encourage others to tell their stories and begin to live big. I see it happening now as I speak to high school students and as I take steps to write a book, my story.

Our child welfare system in this amazing nation is out of sync with the needs of today's society. Part of my dream is to see the agencies involved, from child welfare to the courts to police services, revamped in favour of the protection of youngsters. To do this, the system must be funded properly and managed by creative, brilliant and daring people who will walk in where angels truly have not been let loose.

It is not facile to say that our children are our future; it is unequivocally true. Once the front end of the machine, the child welfare system, is rebalanced and working smoothly and creatively, the judicial and police systems will hum along with it.

We need to offer people a safe haven where they can come forward and tell their stories and reveal the secrets that could haunt them until they die. These dark, ugly stories hold us back, leaving us suffering through a life with little self-confidence and causing us to hide in the shadows of our true selves.

We must all come to terms with our stories, whatever they are, and heal. That's a given in life. What is not a given is the assistance of nurturing and protective people along the way.


Douglas Dane wrote this in collaboration with his therapist, Ellyn Peirson of Guelph. Dane is a national manager in the financial services industry. He tells his story at high schools in Ontario to raise awareness of child abuse. You can e-mail him at

Anonymous said...

NP: Children's aid agency fires five over porn
Date: JUN-19-02
Source: The National Post
Keywords: email porn, obscene, inquest
Posted: JUN-19-02

Childrens Aid Society Index

Children's aid agency fires five over porn
Director describes e-mails as 'an affront to our values'

Christie Blatchford
National Post

TORONTO - The Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto has outright fired five staff and disciplined 32 others in connection with an e-mail pornography scandal.

Most of the sanctioned employees were administrative support staff not directly engaged in serving the agency's clients -- area Roman Catholic youngsters and their families -- but six supervisors and seven child-protection workers were also involved, executive director Mary McConnville told the National Post yesterday.

"It's very distressing for a child-welfare agency," Ms. McConnville said.

She hastened to add that the agency's internal investigation uncovered no child pornography, and that the agency had satisfied itself that none of its clients -- in the year ending last March, the CCAS served 21,375 Toronto children who remained with their families and another 1,854 who were taken into care -- were affected.

"But still," she said, "because of the nature of the work we do, it's completely unacceptable that this would happen here. It's offensive to the public and to our clients. It's also something that's terribly offensive to all of the others on staff."

The total number of employees found linked to the scandal represents about 7% of the agency's total full-time staff of about 475.

Ms. McConnville said the matter came to light through ''a bit of a fluke."

The agency was looking into a staff complaint of sexual harassment, and, in the course of that, someone made an allegation about offensive e-mail.

That subject of the sexual harassment complaint was also fired, but was not implicated in the e-mail scandal.

The broader investigation began in April, Ms. McConnville said, and by May 8, "We began to take action. We wanted to act fairly but aggressively. Society staff has to have confidence in the agency and so does the public." She said the agency had informed the union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, throughout.

At its worst, Ms. McConnville told the Post, employees were exchanging and storing on their office computers "material of a sexually explicit nature," what she also termed "the obscene sexual stuff," and comprised conduct she said was "thoroughly unprofessional and unethical."

At its mildest, she said, the offensive material consisted of "dirty jokes, ethnic jokes, that kind of thing," breaches Ms. McConnville described as "poor judgment."

All of it she pronounced "an affront to our values as a child-welfare agency, and as Catholics."

She said it was "astounding" that so many staffers had felt free to circulate such material, pointing out that since 1999, the agency had issued six "very specific directives on what was inappropriate use of e-mail," in addition to its long-standing policy on sexual harassment and discrimination.

Ms. McConnville said that while the internal computer system has a "firewall" to protect the integrity of its sensitive case files from being accessed externally, employees can receive outside e-mails via the Internet.

This, she said, is how the pornographic material apparently first made its way into agency offices. It was then either circulated to other staff, or stored, or both.

In addition to the five e-mail-related firings -- only one was a child-protection worker, who had not been actively working in child protection at the time, while one was a case aide who dealt with clients only on the telephone -- 26 employees were suspended without pay for between three and five days, depending on what Ms. McConnville called "the volume and nature" of the offensive material.

Of the suspended employees, six were supervisors (only three of whom worked in the service area), six were child-protection workers and one was a case aide.

Another six staffers received warning letters on their personnel files.

Ms. McConnville said that while the agency is confident it has ended the practice in the short term, "We want to make sure it doesn't happen again."

To that end, she said, the agency's entire staff has just gone through a mandatory refresher course on its harassment and discrimination policy, is looking for some sort of screening tool that might prevent such material being transmitted into the agency without interfering with its work, and intends to do "some monitoring from here on ... From my perspective, this is like a cancer in the workplace. We've got to talk about what happened."

Last spring, at a coroner's inquest into the June 23, 1997, death of baby Jordan Heikamp, who starved to death in downtown Toronto while he was ostensibly under the watchful eye of worker Angie Martin, Ms. Martin and her supervisor took the opportunity to complain bitterly of their growing workload.

At the end of the 12-week inquest, the five-member jury returned with a verdict of homicide in Jordan's death.

© Copyright 2002 National Post

Anonymous said...

Date: JUN-19-02
Source: The Globe and Mail
Keywords: hard-core pornography, stunned, puzzled
Posted: JUN-19-02

Childrens Aid Society Index

Toronto children's aid workers disciplined over porn e-mails


Wednesday, June 19, 2002, Page A9

Six workers have been fired and 26 suspended without pay from Toronto's Catholic Children's Aid Society for sending e-mails to each other containing hard-core pornography and offensive jokes. Another six received letters of warning.

Of the 38 workers disciplined, four are male and 34 female, and of the six who were fired, four are women.

Mary McConville, executive director of the CCAS, said yesterday that the scandal has rocked the agency to its core. "It's very distressing for a child welfare agency to be involved in activity of this nature."

Ms. McConville said no child pornography was discovered in the investigation and the agency's protection services have not been compromised. "However, the misconduct that did occur is completely unacceptable in a child-welfare agency and a Catholic organization."

One of the employees who was fired was a child-protection worker but was in an administrative capacity. Another was a case aid worker who dealt with people on the phone. Of those suspended for three to five days, six got the maximum number because they are front-line supervisors. Another six are child-protection workers, one a case aid worker and 13 administrative support workers.

The CCAS has a total staff of 500.

The e-mail porn was discovered in early April during an investigation of a sexual-harassment complaint at one of the agency's branch offices. Action to shut it down was swift and firm.

Ms. McConville said the worst material circulating through the agency computer network was "sexually explicit pornography which someone downloaded externally from a sex porn site. The mildest end of the spectrum, if I can put it that way, was off-colour jokes and cartoons.

"Obviously the discipline meted out was a reflection of that misconduct."

Ms. McConville said that when she was first informed of the e-mail porn activity she was "quite stunned and extremely disappointed." She said the entire episode has had a devastating effect on morale.

"The staff are appalled and completely puzzled that people would do this in a professional workplace, especially in an organization like this one," she said.


Anonymous said...

Lost generation want its history back

When former Indian Affairs Minister Jane Stewart made her historic apology to the aboriginal peoples of Canada on Jan. 8, 1998, she singled out native residential schools as the most reprehensible example of Canada's degrading and paternalistic Indian policies. Designed to assimilate native children into English ways and strip them of their language and culture, the schools also became notorious for sickening physical and sexual abuse.

Though none would disagree with Stewart's condemnation of residential schools, which were phased out in the 1960s, some wondered why she didn't also apologize for the equally assimilationist -- if less well-known -- strategy that followed immediately in the schools' wake: the widespread adoption of aboriginal children out to non-native families in the '60s, '70s and early '80s.

Commonly referred to as the Sixties Scoop, the practice of removing large numbers of aboriginal children from their families and giving them over to white middle-class parents was discontinued in the mid-'80s, after Ontario chiefs passed resolutions against it and a Manitoba judicial inquiry harshly condemned it.

The passage of the Child and Family Services Act of 1984 ensured that native adoptees in Ontario would be placed within their extended family, with another aboriginal family or with a non-native family that promised to respect and nurture the child's cultural heritage. Aboriginal peoples also began to play a much greater role in the child welfare agencies that served them, and the numbers of native adoptees in general began to decline as more stayed with their birth parents.

However, the act also dictated that old birth records remain sealed, unless both the birth parent and the child asked for them. This has helped keep the period in darkness and frustrated attempts by adoptees to learn about their roots. Those who now feel they were victimized by the adoption process have an extremely difficult time finding out who they are.

Donna Marchand, a 44-year-old Toronto lawyer, is launching a court challenge against the Harris government to strike down the sealed birth records provisions of the Child and Family Services Act.

An adopted child herself, she recalls being terrorized into denying her origin: "When I was about three-and-a-half, it started coming to my attention that I was adopted. My cousins told me. I was only three years old, but I was aware that I was different. I just didn't fit in. I was getting called a little bastard. And I asked my adopted mother what adoption meant. She said, 'Don't ever say that again -- if your father hears you he'll kill you.' He'd been sitting there in his drunken stupor. He'd go on binges for days.

"I've lived my whole life being native because I was called a squaw. I don't look white enough. And I was in working-class, real WASP, downtown Toronto. I got called a squaw and Donna Wanna, and I got tied to my share of trees and got my hair hacked off."

Marchand's constitutional challenge involves Section 7 and Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, according to her lawyer, Jennifer Scott. "Section 7 is the right to life, liberty and security of person," says Scott. "And Section 15 is the equality rights. The 15 provisions are that adoptees are sort of a group that is protected. But different communities of adoptees are particularly affected, and it has a tremendous impact on communities like native people -- where they don't know who their mom and dad are, but they're assimilated into families that don't even know their culture, their history, their background. It goes to who they are."

Just as the closing of the residential schools did not mean their legacy of suffering instantly vanished, so the end of the Sixties Scoop did not mean that all the native adoptees who were farmed out to abusive or alienating non-native families suddenly found themselves with a clear-cut identity or a secure place in society.

Indeed, many still found themselves not only "torn between two worlds," but literally unsure if they were native at all, and not French or Italian as their adoptive parents claimed. Their birth records were sealed and often amended to include the names of to include the names of the adoptive, rather than biological, parents. Moreover, their adoption records were in many cases inaccurate, incomplete, falsified or simply missing. As a result, many native adoptees who did try to locate their birth parents or confirm their native status wasted literally decades on failed searches or frustrating battles with Children's Aid authorities or Indian Affairs officials.

Suzanne Bezuk, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, says ""non-identifying information" can be made available to adult adoptees without their birth parents' consent.

"And for aboriginal peoples in particular, in the case of native clients, the name of the band and reservation can be provided."

However, aboriginal status and band names were seldom recorded on the original birth and adoption records in the '60s and '70s. So even this "non-identifying information" is rarely available.

Marchand cannot even be sure whether her mother was in fact native. "All I know is, it's very typical for native women, and my Uncle Frank says we're native. And my Aunt June looks native. Me and my two sisters, we look real native. But my mother, she internalized the shame of being a native woman. Look what she put down [on the adoption record]: 'Ethnicity not stated.' It's a shame. A lot of native women don't say, because they were going to lose their babies, and they wanted them to be adopted by good people, and good people weren't going to adopt 'little bastard squaws.' "

Even now, researchers trying to determine exactly how many aboriginal children were removed from their families during the Scoop say the task is all but impossible because adoption records from the '60s and '70s rarely indicated aboriginal status (as they are now required to).

Those records which are complete, however, suggest the adoption of native children by non-native families was pervasive, at least in Northern Ontario and Manitoba. In her March, 1999 report, "Our Way Home: A Report to the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy on the Repatriation of Aboriginal People Removed by the Child Welfare System," author Janet Budgell notes that in the Kenora region in 1981, "a staggering 85 per cent of the children in care were First Nations children, although First Nations people made up only 25 per cent of the population. The number of First Nations children adopted by non-First Nations parents increased fivefold from the early 1960s to the late 1970s. Non-First Nations families accounted for 78 per cent of the adoptions of First Nations children."

Similarly, "One Manitoba community of 800 people lost 150 children to adoption between 1966-1980," reports Budgell, who prepared the report in conjunction with Native Child and Family Services of Toronto.

Though it is rarely possible to determine precise numbers, the practice of native adoption was widespread enough to be denounced as "cultural genocide" by Edwin C. Kimelman, the presiding judge at the 1985 Manitoba inquiry.

Many native adoptees suffered from not only geographical displacement and cultural confusion but also emotional emptiness, violence, physical and sexual abuse, and drug or alcohol abuse.

"My brother was adopted at four years old," recalls one of the birth relatives of native adoptees interviewed for "Our Way Home." "His adoptive parents divorced when he was 12 and they gave him back to the agency like returning merchandise. His life after that was a living hell of abuse, violence and alcoholism. My brother hanged himself at 20 years old."
Joanne Dallaire is a native adoptee who conducts healing sessions for adoptees at the Anishnawbe Health Centre in Toronto. She too was told by her adoptive family that she wasn't native. "I myself was raised by a non-native, and my whole history was denied. Like in school, I was teased. You know how kids can be rather cruel with each other, and I was called a squaw and stuff like that, and when I'd come home, I'd be like crying and stuff, and they'd say, 'You're not Indian, you're French. So you make sure you tell them you're French.' It was years and years of misinformation."

Dallaire's attempts to find her birth mother or at least learn the truth of her native status began early. "The first time I started searching was when I was 15, so that was 1966. But it wasn't until I was an adult and on my own that I really began to search. I didn't have any proof, either, until 1998. Anishnawbe [native] people would come up to me and say, 'Oh, so you're Anishnawbe.' And I'd say, 'No, no, I'm French.' And I remember one man said to me -- I remember profoundly -- he looked at me and he said, 'Someone's lying to you. You're Anishnawbe.'

"I remember when I got the phone call from the social services department. One of my first questions was: 'Is there native in my background?' So my mother wanted to know how I'd feel about it if I was, and I said, 'Very pleased,' because my whole spirituality and stuff was drawn to native culture. So I've come to find out that I am [First Nations] -- to what degree, I don't know, because my mother is still very evasive about my father. But at least I know part of my heritage is Cree -- James Bay Cree."

Donna Marchand's own search for her birth mother took 16 years through the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Adoption Disclosure Record. When government officials finally contacted her in the spring of 1999, they said her mother had died 26 years earlier.

"It's a big area that most people never even thought of," says Dallaire, "because it goes so quietly and privately. It's not as out there as the residential schools. And because everything's secret, you can literally throw your hands in the air and go, 'Well?' You quickly run up against one wall and then another, so it takes perseverance, like with Donna having to fight and fight again to get what she wants. Most people get battle-weary and never win."

According to the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights, Justice Kimelman's description of the Sixties Scoop as cultural genocide is accurate. It reads: "Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct people with guarantees against genocide or any other act of violence, including the removal of indigenous children from their families and communities under any pretext."

So why was the wholesale removal of aboriginal children not considered a crime, or even a wrong, that the Minister of Indian Affairs felt obliged to redress along with the residential school system?

The answer isn't that complicated, says Kenn Richard, director of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto and the man who commissioned the "Our Way Home" report. "British colonialism has a certain process and formula, and it's been applied around the world with different populations, often indigenous populations, in different countries that they choose to colonize," says Richard. "And that is to make people into good little Englishmen. Because the best ally you have is someone just like you. One of the ones you hear most about is obviously the residential schools, and residential schools have gotten considerable media attention over the past decade or so. And so it should, because it had a dramatic impact that we're still feeling today. But child welfare to a large extent picked up where residential schools left off.

"The lesser-known story is the child welfare story and its assimilationist program. And you have to remember that none of this was written down as policy: 'We'll assimilate aboriginal kids openly through the residential schools. And after we close the residential schools we'll quietly pick it up with child welfare.' It was never written down. But it was an organic process, part of the colonial process in general."

Anonymous said...

The aboriginal nations want accountability for th genocide of their children.

Anonymous said...

We need a Truth Commission.

The aboriginal scoop of the sixties was about the land claims. By taking these children and dispersing them to the wind, they have been assimilated into white society. They are lost to their aboriginal communities. In a few generations there will be no status aboriginal.

There will be no one to carry on the land claims. The Aboriginal Nations will be a memory.

This is how vile the plan is. It all goes back to money.

Do you know that for every status aboriginal on the reserve, the government pays a tithe of $180,000?

Anonymous said...

Land clams is only a part of the picture, the land is is toxic, no one should be living on it at this point.
they were seen as weak and easy pickings. And couples liked to parade around the little native children. Like coming home from China with two.
I am not against adoption, I have adopted, and only would do so, and this was many years ago, with the agreement it be open, MUCH MORE OPEN then the government is sating it will be.
If THERE is clear and convincing evidence that the parent or parents cannot parent the child, and that evidence would stand up in a higher court, then and only then, should other members of the biological family be sought. Children are rarely truly orphans, the judge with one wipe of a pen does that.
Is it right?

Children have a right to be raised by there parents, and in the families they were born into.
even Jeffery could have been place with a more suitable family member his other grandmother, if they cared, and I doubt this blog would be her today if he was left with his mother. And we have no right to be judgemental.
It takes a much harder fight to remove a dangerous dog from a family, then a child. One has to wonder, when will the political will be there to STOP LOOK AND LISTEN.
To all the families that are crying for justice. the butter box babies how soon we forget.

Anonymous said...

To the last poster you are right on track!