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Queens Park Rally
October 6, 2009 permalink
The rally at Queens Park started at 10 am on October 5 with just ten people, but the group expanded in less than an hour to thirty, and by noon was over fifty people. Several people spoke, including Sheila White from the office of provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Randy Hillier, MPP for Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington. Mr Hillier also spoke individually to many members of the audience.
A crown ward, seventeen-year-old Tasha Gallant, defied the Child and Family Services act by mentioning her name in public. She has been a crown ward since age thirteen. She spoke of the contrast between the nourishment given by her real family, and the weight-loss diet in her foster home. Sixteen-year-old Mike Follis spoke of his years in foster care from 2000 to 2007.
Canada Court Watch recorded the whole proceeding, and we hope to post more in the near future. Enclosed below is a report by Mary Janiga, who also participated as a speaker. Following her notes on the rally are recollections of her personal encounter with CAS.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Queens park rally success October 5th 2009
We were the first ones to arrive at Queens Park in Toronto at 9:00am after taking a non-stop train from Hamilton to Toronto we took the subway down to University Ave and waited for people to arrive. I had a prepared text and speech to give and I was a little nervous and yet felt proud to be amongst so many fighters against the Children's Aid Society. I finally got to meet John Dunn an advocate of http://www.afterfostercare.ca/ after reading and seeing what he has done for ex foster children and children still in fostercare.
A lot of comrades arm in arm to fight against such a tyrant called the Children's Aid Society. We all talked and laughed, shed a few tears and listened to many speakers from all ages and walks of life.
Andrea Horwath unfortunately did not attend or speak at the rally. IT was most unfortunate as this was her private members Bill that was first introduced at Queens Park. I hope she puts some more concerted effort into raising the awareness of this most important BILL for Accountability of the Children's Aid Society in the future. 2 years in a row does not seem right for her not to attend such an event that is on behalf of children in Ontario and families everywhere.
It was alot of hard work and I am thankful to have attended this event for the second year in a row. Thank you to the organizers and the weather that held out until we hit Hamilton at 5pm. It started pouring rain but we were home.
I spoke with a broken heart and memories that are still painful after so many days and years without our children. I figured I would post my speech on my blog today as alot of people heard it but you have to read it to understand it.
When a life event happens such as a marriage, a death, a newborn baby that comes into the world you remember that day forever. When the Children’s Aid Society comes into your life and changes your world you never forget that day either. That is what happened to our comfortable family of four on the corner of Wellington and Barton Street Hamilton on March 24, 2005.
There were no domestic disputes or family strife we were advocates and protecting our own children from Society. Anonymous phone calls and innuendos from the community abounded against us for many years. We protected these two children; they were our granddaughter and our son. An 11 year old child within the school system could not read or write while in grade 4. No help was given to him within the school system. Just let him stare at the walls and give him detention. It was decided that homeschooling him was the answer. He was progressing and learning well, without the help of the educational system that had completely failed him.
The police tactical units with their battering rams in arms stormed unannounced and broke down two doors. The Children’s Aid Society workers were hiding on the sidelines waiting to strike. They had prepared their statements and served their paperwork. Remove the children and take them away. There were false allegations and affidavits and medical reports that didn’t seem real. We had family visitation of our two children aged 11 and 7 that consisted of 1 ½ hours per week under the watchful eye of the Society. 27 visits later the children were removed from Hamilton and went on to Windsor 350 miles away from their family. The judge’s final words to as he made his decree were “don’t be mad at them be mad at me.” We had done nothing wrong. At that moment our family world had ended.
3 years of fighting in the family court system we thought to ourselves we just had to continue on to fight against the injustices that were happening in Ontario regarding the Children’s Aid Society.
It wasn’t just happening to us. We found that in fact it is not just happening in Ontario. It is happening in Canada, the USA Australia, England, Africa, European countries and beyond. Every community has an agency, with a budget of astronomical proportions. They remove children unjustly.
Children are dying in foster care, abused in kinship care homes, and abused by the very protectors that are supposed to help children.
After extensive research and networking with others within the community we started a community activist group called Child Assist Services in 2005.
The acronym is C.A.S. We met mothers that had lost children at birth; we met families that had been broken up. We saw their pain as we lived it during and after the court process.
We started public support campaigns and blogging websites and we continued on our fight against injustice. We have lobbied for Ombudsman oversight first named Bill 88 then Bill 93 to have an Accountability Act for the Children’s Aid Societies of this Province of Ontario.
We protested injustices against families that had their children stolen from their loving arms.
We stood arm in arm together for the past 4 years to bring to light the fact that the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton has a budget of $50 million dollars with 700 children in foster care and the fact that the Director is receiving over $150 000 per year in child abduction pay.
We have never forgotten our story or our pain as we have shared it with all the families we have advocated for and helped along the years. We must be united and stand together and fight against the Children’s Aid Society and the corruption that exists within this system..
Dismantle the whole process and this starts with helping families and children. Child Assist Service’s motto is very basic “WE ARE HERE TO PROTECT CHILDREN AND FAMILIES FROM CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETY.”
I have been working with a client that has been having financial problems with ODSP and OW for the past 6 months. Fighting a bureaucracy of rumors, allegations and innuendos has made this clients life a living hell daily. No income for five months whatsoever. This is an immigrant to this country who cannot speak English that has been abused by the Children’s Aid Society when they removed his children from his wife and then threw him in jail through false allegations and innuendos. He was exonerated but not after the removal of his 5 children, the two youngest children went up for Crown Wardship and adoption without access and his 3 oldest children he gets to see 1 hour per month supervised by the Children’s Aid Society.
This is not the Canada I want to live in that treats its immigrants so inhumanely. Throw you in jail, take away your children, and take away your income, now you are on the street. This is a parody and a travesty. I am ashamed to be a Canadian.
I am upset with Consulates that turn their back on clients, people that give lip service and don’t give a damn except to worry about their own paycheck and problems and forget about the little guy getting screwed.
Posted by Advocate at 6:42 PM
Source: Mary Janiga blog for October 5, 2009
Addendum: A satellite rally in Woodstock made the press.
Protesters fight for power to probe CAS
Posted By Hugo Rodrigues, SENTINEL-REVIEW Updated October 6, 2009
Approximately a dozen people added their voices to a provincewide call to grant Ontario's ombudsman the power to investigate child-protection agencies.
They rallied Monday outside the Woodstock head office of the Oxford Children's Aid Society (CAS) on Light Street, politely asking passersby to sign a petition in support of Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath's Bill 93: An act to amend the Ombudsman Act with respect to children's aid societies.
The bill, which received first reading on June 11, 2008, has not progressed any further through the legislative process. It would allow the ombudsman to investigate and report on any society as defined in the Child and Family Services Act, such as the Oxford CAS.
The Woodstock rallyers were a mix of families involved with child-protection agencies in the area and those who support the cause of greater accountability for the decisions these agencies make.
"I want to stand up for children and families. If I sit here and say nothing, it allows them to continue with what they're doing," Shawna Parry said, holding a placard that spelled out her concerns.
If Bill 93 became law, Parry and others who feel they're in similar situations could appeal to the ombudsman's office for an investigation into their concerns.
"Bill 93 would give the ombudsman the authority to investigate placements, access decisions and custody decisions that Ontario families are not allowed to appeal," Christine Sorko-Houle said. "There is a Child and Family Services Review Board, but it's family and children's services people that sit on that board."
Sorko-Houle said she hopes allowing the ombudsman oversight powers over children's protection agencies would lead to the creation of a more independent review process for families who feel they've been unjustly targeted or prosecuted and had their children taken away.
Sorko-Houle said an Oxford Community Police Service officer had dropped by the peaceful rally earlier that morning, returning to drop off purple ribbons for the rallyers in support of child abuse prevention month. She mentioned a similar rally would be taking place in St. Thomas Tuesday.
Source: Woodstock Sentinel-Review
Addendum: Andrew Skinner provided us with a copy of a supportive letter from Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones (pdf) read to the audience at the rally. She is MPP for Dufferin-Caledon and PC Critic for Children and Youth Services. She gives the opposite message in an article published in the Orangeville Citizen.
October 8, 2009
Jones questions minister on aid societies
Sylvia Jones, MPP for Dufferin-Caledon, has called on the Liberal government to answer the call from children's aid societies who have had their budgets cut mid-way through their fiscal years.
Children's aid societies are mandated to perform certain tasks under legislation, and required to have a balanced budget approved by the Minister of Children and Youth Services at the beginning of each year. This year, a record 36 of the 51 societies — including Dufferin Child and Family Services — have filed reviews, which means they are unable to balance their mandate with their budget.
"There has never before been so many Children's Aid Societies who are in crisis," she said. "They have a legislated responsibility to provide front-line care for the most vulnerable children in this province. Cutting their budgets will inevitably mean a reduction in services for at-risk children."
She said many of the societies fear the budget cuts will mean a reduction in front-line staff that provide child protection services.
"Ontario families have a right to be concerned," said Ms. Jones. "Provincial legislation says that children's aid societies need to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children."
Source: Orangeville Citizen
Addendum: We found a blog post by Maryna (link only) and enclose below a report by Jacqueline Dratwa:
Jacqueline wrote October 6, 2009
What a great day! The day started with our Registered Speakers. First we had Randy Hillier MPP of Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington followed by Sheila White from NDP Leader and MPP of Hamilon Centre Andrea Horwath's Office. Andrea was scheduled to speak but because of a bit of delay couldn't make it. Then we had John Dunn from the Foster Care Council of Canada, Andrew Skinner from Fighting 4 Familes, Kris Titis of Fathers 4 Justice, Mary Janiga of Child Assist Services, Robert McQuaid from Dufferin VOCA, Steve Rudd of The Church of Christ and Special Guest Archbishop Dorian Baxter.
There was a short break after the registered speakers and then the mic was open to the public to have their say. We heard from Several Speakers including a young woman with direct experience of CAS "care" and a powerful informative speech by Chris Carter. We heard from a father who fought to help his step son and we also heard from his step son himself. We heard about court battles, parents going for help and losing their children instead of getting that help. We heard of the abuse in care and how the children of this province are being used as commodities.
All in all it was a fantastic day full of wonderful speeches and people who desperately want change and won't stop until there is change. Next year we hope to be even bigger and even louder... so start planning for October 4 2010!!
Thank you to all those who attended and to those who held Satellite Rallies in their communities. Stay tuned for pictures and videos of the event which should be online in the days to come!
Here are photos of the rally and nine of the speakers, audio only, all in mp3 format in order of presentation. Randy Hillier, Andrew Skinner, Kris Titus, Mary Janiga, Steven Rudd, Dorian Baxter, Robert McQuaid, Tasha Gallant, Mike Follis, Neil Haskett.
After the rally, some people visited the Ministry of Children and Youth Services office nearby. Chris Carter had many questions, the ministry had few answers. Part one YouTube ( with local copy, flv 62 megabytes), part two YouTube ( with local copy, flv 50 megabytes),