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Port aux Basques Rally

February 14, 2011 permalink

After Newfoundland CYFS seized the children of Dorothy and Bobby Rodgers on grounds of intelligence, locals organized a rally in support of the family. Listening to the mother interviewed by the CBC shows heavily accented speech, but no mental deficit. The official response from Carol Chafe is to suppress the news for the protection of the children's right to confidentiality, privacy and safety.



Rally held to support parents

Michelle Coley, Harold Lomond, Will Munden and Calvin Tapp
Michelle Coley, Harold Lomond, Will Munden and Calvin Tapp brave the weather to rally in support of the Rodgers family.
Aethne Hinchliffe photo

The wind and blowing snow didn’t keep people like Brenda Pieroway from joining a peaceful protest on Main Street in Port aux Basques to support the Rodgers’ family last Wednesday.

The Rodgers feel Child, Youth and Family Services overstepped its bounds after taking their children, in part, based on IQ test results.

About 30 people stood bundled in front of Family Services. Some held hand-made signs. Others chanted, “Bring the kids home.” Most cars that drove up Main Street past the protestors honked their horns and waved.

“We just wanted to show everybody that the support of the public and the community is here with the Rodgers’ family and that we all feel there’s been an injustice done and in our hearts we would really like to have those children back home with their parents,” said Mrs. Pieroway, who came up with the idea of holding the peaceful protest.

About 30 or 40 people came out to a meeting on Feb. 5. Mrs. Pieroway said there were a few things on the agenda, including how to get the public’s attention.

“This was the way we decided at the meeting to come up with this peaceful rally,” she said. “We’re not demonstrating, we’re just doing a peaceful rally.”

She said they planned to hold the rally for about 20 minutes just so everyone in town could see.

“As you can see, we’ve had a decent turnout despite the blizzard,” she said.

Youth advocate

Carol Chafe, the province’s child and youth advocate is concerned with the media coverage and public disclosure relating to the Rodgers’ family.

She said when children are the central part of the story, their right to confidentiality, privacy and safety must trump all other interests.

“While most of us readily recognize the risk in providing children’s names and personal information in such circumstances, we may not be aware of other information which, if provided, points to the identity of the children,” said Mrs. Chafe in a news release.

Ms. Chafe said the situation of children being removed from a home is difficult and emotional. Her role as the child and youth advocate is to ensure children are protected.

Official opposition

Acting Opposition leader Kelvin Parsons says the two government ministers most involved in the Rodgers’ child custody case are avoiding the real problems and doing their best to avoid responsibility for the way the family was treated.

“Last week when the story of Dorothy and Bobby Rodgers’ case became public the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services, Charlene Johnson, called into every talk show to indicate the children were not taken from their families because the parents had low IQ scores,” said Mr. Parsons in a news release.

Mr. Parsons said since last week he’s been in contact with the family and reviewed the Parental Capacity Report. He said the minister can’t argue the fact that among other tests, an IQ test was an integral part of the assessment.

Mr. Parsons also wonders why the Department of Human Resources, specifically the Disability Policy Office, hasn’t said anything about the case. Its mandate is to promote the inclusion of people who have disabilities into society.

“What message is this giving the public on the status and rights of people with disabilities?” asked Mr. Parsons.

Advocacy group

An advocacy group for people who have intellectual disabilities and their families says the Rodgers’ case is deeply troubling.

Ray McIssac, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association for Community Living, said there is no question Child, Youth and Family Services is not walking carefully in determining the suitability of parents by using IQ tests and other assessment tools that may be questionable.

Mr. McIssac said such tests are out of step with supportive family and social models.

“We will be pursuing several actions,” he said. “We will be writing Minister Johnson to express our concern and to address the larger question of departmental policy and practice.”

Source: Port aux Basques Gulf News