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483 Balloons
000 Children

March 16, 2011 permalink

Six Nations parents are protesting the seizure of 483 of their children by the children's aid society of Brant.



Janace Henry
Janace Henry reads a statement to Chief Bill Montour as a group protesting the number of native children that have been placed by the Children's Aid Society marched to the council house in Ohsweken on Tuesday, March 15, 2011. The group released balloons representing the 483 children the say are in CAS care

Additional photos: [1] [2].

'Bring our children home': Six Nations Clan Mothers

Men, women and children from Six Nations walked to have their voices heard Tuesday evening concerning the number of youth under CAS care in Brant County.

Clan mothers marched from the community centre in Ohsweken to the council hall toting almost 500 helium-filled balloons. The balloons represented the 483 Aboriginal children they say are currently in the care of the Children's Aid Society of Brant. In the fall of 2009, that number was 254.

The group, along with the clan mothers, waited for the assembled Six Nations Elected Council to come outside and hear their message.

"If they don't want to come out here, then we're going to have to go in there with the balloons and say what we have to say," said one man in the group, who wished to remain anonymous.

After a few minutes council came outside to meet with the group, lead by Chief William Montour, and listened to the message delivered by Janace Henry. Betty Thomas handed out copies of a prepared speech to council members to reinforce the message.

"Enough is enough," Henry said to the council. "Bring our children home."

Henry and the clan mothers were protesting what they believe is unfair treatment towards Aboriginal families and their children. Outlined in the speech were rights that they believed many families did not know of, and they said that CAS was violating these rights. They insisted that the displaced children be returned immediately, and that other alternatives be found to eliminate the problem in the future.

"I didn't realize how many children that actually were in care, until I met with the representatives last week," said Chief Montour as he addressed the protestors.

He also reminded the group that in the late 80's and early 90's, Six Nations was very close to creating their own branch of the CAS to deal internally with Aboriginal children, instead of the children being removed from the reservation and placed in foster homes. He said the council was working on a new plan to redevelop an on-reserve CAS system and that an advisory committee would be put together to explore new options like a 'safe house.'

"There's a lot of hurdles we have to get over," he said. "But I think we have a plan."

Source: Brantford Expositor

Addendum: CAS executive director Andy Koster says he has only 57 Six Nations children. All right, who has the better record of telling the truth? Mom and dad, or children's aid?

A user comment from Stephen Morris shows an attempt by Brant CAS to frame his daughter in the murder of CAS ward Elisha Elizabeth Mercer, found dead on November 9, 2001.



CAS exec denies claims made by clan mothers

The Children's Aid Society of Brant says a claim made Tuesday evening that almost 500 Six Nations kids are in CAS care is just plain wrong.

Executive director Andy Koster is refuting the claims made by the demonstrators that the number of aboriginal children currently in CAS Brant's care tops almost 500. Koster was out of province the night of the protest, and could not be immediately contacted for comment. However, he said in a phone call Wednesday morning that the numbers were much smaller than the clan mothers were making out to be.

According to information compiled by Karen Hill, executive director for the Native Services Branch of CAS, the number of Six Nations kids currently in CAS care is 57. Koster said roughly half of those kids being placed in homes belonging to their extended family on the reserve. The total of native children from on and off the reserve, from all bands, not restricted to Six Nations: less than one hundred.

That's almost five times less than what the clan mothers and Chief Coun. Bill Montour are saying. According to the Six Nations Elected Council Publications, which released council briefs from the March break issue, Montour said "a total of 483 children were in care."

When contacted via e-mail, Montour declined an interview, and would not comment on where he obtained that information. Janace Henry, who spoke at the demonstration, did not return any phone calls.

"The amount of native children currently in our care represents about 27% of all children in our care, for the area," Koster said via phone call. According to information compiled by Hill, CAS currently has 340 children in their custody.

Koster went on to say that of the "120 to 130 native families that we are currently working with" off the reserve, only 18 children have been taken into foster homes off the reserve. He said CAS care doesn't always mean children are taken from their homes; the CAS works with families investigating friction between family members, which may involve domestic violence or behavioural problems in kids, and helps parents and children cope. They investigate referrals from hospitals and the police, but a lot of people seek help themselves, Koster said.

As for the claims made that the CAS is denying the right of Six Nations to have their own care agency, Koster said that both he and the CAS have always supported them having their own child protection agency and the CAS board has held two unanimous meetings on the subject.

Now, Koster said, it's up to them. He also said he didn't have any suggestions on how the Six Nations should go about creating their own agency, but said CAS would support them in their efforts.

"If they wished us [CAS-Brant] as a partner, we would do everything in our power to help," he said.

Sabrina Burrell is a second year student in the Journalism and Converged Media program at St. Clair College in Windsor, Ont. She is completing her internship requirements at the Brantford Expositor, and Your Brant Connection.

Comments on this Article.

---When C.A.S. took our daughter into temporary care for six weeks back in 2001, there was a wide mirror with curtains in the room in which we were being threatened. I said I needed to go to the washroom for a pee. Afterwards I walked into the room next door (the door was open). You could see through the mirror plainly, into the room we were in. I went back where they were holding my wife and daughter. Later I asked Why the mirror had curtains. The Director of C.A.S.(Joan I believe) told me they were for decoration. I said "that is not a two way mirror is it?". She said "oh no of course not". ---Our daughter was taken into care two days after she discovered the body of Eleisha Mercer on the way to school. The police said on the front page of the Expositor in big letters that Eleisha Mercer was found alive, but in fact she had been dead for hours. Our duaghter was kept for six weeks. She was interviewed for one hour every day. She did not have a lawyer. Finally they found another suspect and they released our daughter six weeks later. They never told anyone about the other suspect for about seventeen months. People spat on my daugher at school and called her a murderer several times. When my daughter turned 16 on her birthday she dropped out of B.C.I.. When my daughter was seventeen she got on a bus for Calgary about sevnteen months after the murder and nine days before the police announced an arrest. Sharon says she will never live in Brantford again and that she hates the Brantford Police and the C.A.S. ---You do not have to believe me, but it is the truth.

Source: Brantford Expositor