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Girl Removed from Thunder Bay

November 19, 2010 permalink

Thunder Bay CAS logo

A dozen protestors showed up at the offices of children's aid in Thunder Bay after a four-year-old local girl was taken from her grandmother and relocated 1546 km away to Stirling Ontario.



Sent away

Sue Gammond Rob Richardson
Jamie Smith,
Sue Gammond, middle, speaks with Rob Richardson at CAS Thursday morning.

The little girl flown from Thunder Bay to southern Ontario by the Children’s Aid Society last week should have stayed home, says a group of community members.

The four-year-old disabled girl was under the care of her grandparents until Nov.8 when CAS forced the grandparents to surrender her to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. She was then airlifted from the regional hospital to Sterling, Ont.

Sue Gammond was one of a dozen protesters at CAS’s Jade Court offices in Thunder Bay Thursday morning. She said the girl should not have been sent south and should have stayed with family in her own community.

"They took her away from her family, they took her away from her support group. She was going to school two days a week," Gammond said. "She has all the resources she needs for support her and they still sent her away."

Thunder Bay CAS director Rob Richardson said he couldn’t discuss the specific case, but did say his organization is legally obligated to act in the best interests of a child. While staying with relatives in the child’s own community is preferred, Richardson said when a child has special needs the agency will sometimes have to move him or her to a place where those needs can be met.

"That is a last resort for us," he said. "We do not like the idea of moving kids out of our community unfortunately for a few children that is the best resource for them."

But Gammond, who was surrounded by the child’s extended family, said based on information she’s received the child isn’t at a special facility where her needs are met. Instead, the young girl is said to be at a CAS-run group home.

"CAS has missed the mark at looking after the child’s needs first. For some reason they have a different agenda," she said. "The little girl is not being served properly by our community by taking her away from the community it’s that simple."

An entire team at CAS makes the decision in cases such as this, but eventually the courts have the final say, Richardson said. A child would not be removed from a community or home unless it was in the child’s best interest to do so, he said.

"It obviously would be better to have the child in our community, but protection concerns would trump family concerns," he said.

Gammond said the child was injured last February and the mother is facing criminal charges.

Gammond believes the mother is innocent, but even still the child has two sets of grandparents and over 30 extended family members in Thunder Bay who are willing to open their homes while the matter is settled.

Source: TB News Watch

Addendum: The year-long ordeal of the girl in the article has prompted the creation of a new website/blog, Reform the Children's Aid Society in Canada.