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Peterborough Rally

December 31, 2010 permalink Kawartha-Haliburton CAS logo

The Peterborough rally drew about 25 people. Here are three articles from the press and a video from CHEX-TV (flv). The Peterborough examiner article links to ten pictures, here are three more from Chad Wells.



CAS focus of protest

People calling for more accountability from Children’s Aid Society

Kawartha-Haliburton CAS, Chemong Road
CAS protest. Protesters walk along Chemong Road in front of the local Children's Aid Society (CAS) in Peterborough on Thursday (Dec. 30). They want the CAS to be more accountable to families it deals with.
Lance Anderson

(PETERBOROUGH) Protestors chanting and waving signs gathered in front of the local Children’s Aid Office (CAS) Thursday, demanding more accountability.

Among the protestors was Brenda Waudby, who claims if the CAS had received a second opinion on the findings of Dr. Charles Smith, her children may not have been taken from her.

“Life is still a fight,” she says.

Ms Waudby was charged with murdering her 21-month-old daughter in 1997 but the charge was dropped two years later after she pleaded guilty to child abuse. She is currently trying to have the conviction overturned since she says, in a court affidavit, she was pressured into pleading guilty.

“They have nobody to answer to,” she says of the CAS.

“I want everybody to play fair.”

She says it was difficult to watch someone else raise her two remaining children after the CAS temporarily took them away from her.

Nathalie Fouquette, director of services at the CAS, says they have oversight but if the government decides to pass a bill allowing the Ombudsman to hold them accountable, she is fine with that. She says the CAS welcomes feedback on ways to improve.

Currently, she says people can take a case to court, file a complaint that will go to the child and family services review board, adding the CAS is accountable to the Province.

Chad Wells says one of the issues is if you file a complaint, the CAS takes people to court, halting the complaint process.

Janet Johnson believes she was set up when she lost custody of her child in 2009.

Neil Haskett helped organize the protest to highlight there is nothing families can do in some situations.

“They’ll say they’re accountable,” he notes.

He says he has been waiting four years for justice in his own personal matter.

Mr. Haskett made the trip from Sudbury and has helped with protests around the province.


Neil Haskett, Janet Johnson, Rose Wyte-Bray and Chad Wells
Protestors Neil Haskett, front, Janet Johnson, Rose Wyte-Bray and Chad Wells march during a rally for accountability of Children's aid Societies in support of Ontario's Private Members Bill 131on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010 outside the Kawartha Haliburton Children's Aid Scoiety building on Chemong Road. CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT/PETERBOROUGH EXAMINER/QMI AGENCY

More Photos

Protesters demand more accountability for province's children's aid societies

Brenda Waudby speaks at rally held outside Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society

Brenda Waudby joined a rally outside the Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society office on Chemong Rd. on Thursday to encourage the provincial government to provide greater oversight of the agency.

The agency took Waudby's two children away from her after she was charged with murdering her daughter, Jenna Mellor, in 1997 based on the erroneous findings of pathologist Dr. Charles Smith.

The murder charge against her was withdrawn. Jenna's babysitter, who was 14 at the time of the killing, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in December 2006.

The Children's Aid Society needs to be held accountable for every action, Waudby said, supporting Bill 131, a private member's bill calling for the province's ombudsman to be allowed to investigate complaints against the agency.

"They have nobody to answer to at this point. They don't answer to anybody in the government and they need to," she said. "In my own situation, I believe … if the CAS had have gotten a second opinion on Dr. Smith's work, I don't believe my two children would have been taken into foster care.

"You're talking about children. They don't get a voice in all of this…. Children's Aid doesn't allow children's voices to be heard, they silence the kids."

In a sworn affidavit filed with Superior Court of Justice, Waudby alleges she was bullied by the Crown attorney, police and the Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society into falsely confessing to abusing Jenna.

Waudby wouldn't comment Thursday on the status of her ongoing legal struggle to clear her name.

As Waudby spoke to the media, 13 people participated in the rally, walking next to the intersection of Chemong and Towerhill roads with signs.

Similar rallies have taken place at some of the other 53 Children's Aid Society offices across the province over the last several months.

There are many accountability mechanisms for the Children's Aid Society, said Nathalie Fouquette, services director of the Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society.

"I don't know if the public realizes that actually we do have many reviews and mechanisms of accountability for CAS. We have actually the Child and Family Services Review Board, which is an independent board. Of course the courts. We have Crown ward reviews. We have auditor general's audits," she said. "It (the ombudsman) would be one more mechanism of accountability."

Hopefully the public remembers there are two sides to a story when it hears the comments made by people at the rallies, Fouquette added.

"Staff come into this business because they want to do a good job and they care for kids and people and they do the best possible to help families," she said.

There are about 270 children in the Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society system, Fouquette said.

It's up to the government whether to add another accountability mechanism, she said.

There have been some incidents with the Children's Aid Society in other parts of Ontario, Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal said.

"The Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society has been most transparent in their workings and certainly any dealings I've had with them have been first rate," he said. "We have one of the best Children's Aid Society agencies in the province of Ontario."

Leal said that when he was a city councillor he served as council's representative on the local Children's Aid Society board of directors from 2000 to 2003.

Last year, the provincial government launched a commission to review the child welfare system. The minister of children and youth services gave the Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare a three-year mandate to develop and implement solutions to promote the sustainability of child welfare.

Part of the investigation is on how to make the welfare system, including Children's Aid Society agencies, more accountable, efficient and sustainable.

Chad Wells, of Huntsville, participated in the rally at the local Children's Aid Society office.

"These kids are being drugged, they're being medicated and it's all about the money," he said. "It's scary what really goes on and what really happens. They target families that don't need to be targeted … and the families that do need Children's Aid involved in their lives, it's minimal involvement."

Wells said he has personal experience with the Children's Aid Society but he didn't want to talk about his situation.

"I agree with what they do. I'm a supporter of Children's Aid Society. I'm actually a member of the Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society … but they need to be accountable," he said. "There are some major problems within the Children's Aid Society and we're not stopping until we find them accountable, make them accountable."

Source: Peterborough Examiner

Brenda Waudby
CAS Protest
Brenda Waudby joined a dozen protesters who marched outside the Kawartha Children's Society's offices in Peterborough on Thursday.

Source: CHEX-TV

Addendum: One more picture in front of Wendy's. Chris Carter and Brian Caldwell hold a sign, the tower is marked Kelly Mackin. Not sure whether she owns the Wendy's, or just a computer with Photoshop.

Addendum: A brief video of the rally.