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News of Dunn in Belleville
June 19, 2010 permalink
A local Belleville news source has covered the ride for accountability by John Dunn.
Ride aimed at accountability for CAS branches
EMC News - John Dunn believes that Children's Aid Societies across the province are in dire need of increased transparency and accountability.
As a result, Dunn, a former foster child, is riding his bicycle in an awareness generating ride from Ottawa to Windsor, accompanied by a banner-clad truck and camper-trailer in an effort to ensure that children and youth's rights are being adhered to, applicable laws are being complied with, and offences are not being committed by these agencies, their staff, or board members.
Monday, Dunn stopped in West Zwicks Park in Belleville to speak to media and supporters before delivering a message to the Hastings CAS in Belleville and continuing on his journey.
The journey has been slugged the Ride for Accountability of Children's Aid Societies, on behalf of the Foster Care Council of Canada, an organization of which Dunn is the founding, volunteer executive director.
Dunn explained that he hopes that the ride will garner the attention and active response from the public, professionals, and government authorities who all have a moral, regulatory responsibility to oversee Children's Aid Societies and investigate complaints from parents and children.
Dunn is well aware of the life of foster kids, having spent 16 years in foster care, moved around roughly to over a dozen homes in that time.
"Some of those homes were abusive, some were just average, a few others were good," he said.
He was taken away from his mother at 18 months, as was his six-year-old brother, while his two older sisters remained in the home with her.
"She was an alcoholic and bipolar," he said. "She went out drinking a lot and was suicidal so they took us away from her."
When he was six years old Dunn was placed in a foster home in the GTA, one that was lined up to adopt him, but that fell apart in what he called an "adoption breakdown."
You see Dunn was a bed wetter, he related being set down on a burning wood stove.
"I remember hearing the sizzle of my wet pants," he said. "That happened more than once, but on another occasion he (the foster father) tried to shove me horizontally into the stove where there was still burning coals and I remember grabbing at the edges of the stove, burning my hands, screaming I'll never do it again."
His voice expressing a slight strain, Dunn related another more shocking abuse.
"I guess he figured that didn't drive the message home because I was still wetting the bed, I remember the bathroom pliers being applied to my penis and being told if I wet the bed again it would be cut off."
That was the last time Dunn was put up for adoption, after that he was shuttled around to different homes including one just outside of Picton when he was a teenager, where again boys at the home were abused.
"The other guys bore the brunt of it more than me, at that point I was very quiet and didn't talk back," he noted. "There was some physical abuse, mostly it was verbal and emotional abuse that is constant for foster kids. We were told more times than I can count that our parents didn't want us and that we would never make anything of ourselves."
But, Dunn maintained that the organization and his ride is not about the abuse that he endured and that other foster children may still endure.
"This is about the lack of effective and external oversight of Ontario's fifty-plus Children's Aid Societies," he explained. "CAS's are public non profit corporations, not government agencies, a fact that most people are unaware of. They are funded by the government but not regulated by the government officially."
He said the purpose of his awareness ride is to raise public awareness and hopefully get an ombudsman to have investigative authority over the CAS. "That would be a start," said Dunn. "The idea is to have a third party regulatory agency that the CAS is accountable to, not investigative committees that are part of the CAS."
After leaving Zwicks Park in Belleville Dunn planned to stop at the local CAS to drop off literature to them, but he encouraged the interested individuals to spend the $5 and apply to be a member of the local CAS to affect change.
Source: Belleville EMC