at a glance

Crown ward, Highschool student
Toronto, Ontario
Children's Aid Society of Toronto
1997 - 2012
Children and Youth Services Community and Social Services
Laurel Broten (LIB) Dr. Eric Hoskins (LIB) Deb Matthews (LIB) Marie Bountrogianni (LIB) Mary Anne Chambers (LIB) Janet Ecker (PC) John Baird (PC)

My goal in life is to accomplish anything and everything because I know I can. I have many dreams that will come true. My main concern is that I need to speak out against the psychological, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that Children's Aid (and its affiliated companies) put me through, and continues to put other vulnerable children and adults at risk.

I was taken away from my mother at age 4 and made a crown ward with no access to my mom and very little access to my brother. My brother was made crown ward with access. I was placed in a foster home for 5 years where I was sexually and physically abused. I was mocked whenever I cried for my mom and told that I sound like a moose.

Between the ages of 4 to 15 I was put on medication that was mentally destroying me, yet I was forced to take it. If I didn't, I would be grounded. When I was 8 years old I began trying to harm myself by tying things around my neck. At age 10 I ran in front of a van, at 14 I took a bottle of Advil, at 17 I took a bottle of aspirin and at age 18 I did the same thing.

I didn't know anyone in my family. When I asked my worker to help me find my mother, she said that my mother didn't exist, and that they didn't have the resources, the money or the time to help me find her. It turns out she would speak to my mother on the phone so she knew exactly where she was and how to find her. I was only allowed to see my brother once a month for one hour visits, which later turned into a half hour because he had to work.

By age 15 I found my mother, my aunts, and my grandma in the yellow pages. My worker told my mom that she would consider giving us visits provided she get a police check. After my mother got the police check she was told that they would not give her any visits. So I started sneaking to my mother's house only to have the police show up every night at 3 am to see if I was there because 'they' kept filing MPR's on me when all I was trying to do was get my family back.

Long story short everything I have to say is too long to type. They tried so hard to rip out my heart, they ruined my family, no one is close and no one knows each other. My mother and I don’t get along because of the nonsense Children's Aid made us go through, which creates extra stress for both of us, and neither of us are good with stress. My brother can't deal with any more bullshit so he said fuck us a long time ago.

They ruined my family but they didn’t ruin my mind. It's all of have left and I am determined to use it against them because my mind and my heart is more powerful then their “system” will ever be. If I cannot restrengthen and bring back hope to my family, then at least I can try doing this for others... because they/you are my family too.

~ Krista

Audio of Krista (mp4) with photography by Vanessa Natalia.


Phone Interview / Photo Essay
January, 2012

[00:00:02.13] Alright. I guess I'm ready to start.

[00:00:06.15] Um, I'm living in a group home - I don't get three meals a week, I mean a day. Last week, I was living off of carrots and onions and lettuce! And maybe a couple of slices of bread and peanut butter.

[00:00:21.13] I dunno. I don't really think that's right. Seeing that I'm still in the care of the Children's Aid this should not be going on.

[00:00:47.25] I guess between the ages of 4 when I was living with my mother, um, my mother was abusive. I mean she used to physically abuse me. She used to beat me.

[00:01:01.20] She, for some reason, liked the belt and the spoon. And she would sometimes burn me with cigarettes - I don't know why.

[00:01:13.27] And, um, her ex-girlfriend used to molest me and my brother. Um, Sexually, she uh, would make me and my brother do stuff to each other and to her.

[00:01:30.12] Apparently, my mother didn't know. And, also, my uncle - my mom used to bring me to my uncle's house and he sometimes would be a little sexually abusive and physically abusive.

[00:01:42.20] He used to hit me with - I dunno - he used to put me in hot water and then take me out and hit me with - You know that wire that you plug into the TV and it has that sharp thing? The TV thing? Yeah. He would just hit me with that.

[00:01:59.08] And, yeah sometimes he would do other stuff but I don't really like to be descriptive about -

[00:02:05.25] And that's how we got taken away

[00:02:09.18] My brother just turned 21 last year, he's turning 22. Um, our relationship is nothing how like it used to be when I was 4 years old. Um, we were separated once we came into care and we don't - we were only allowed like, one hour visits every month

[00:02:30.10] Never really got to have conversations with my brother and get to know him. And right now, yeah, we're pretty much like cousins who don't really know each other. Kind of sad, because you know when I first came into care, he was my only contact with family.

[00:02:50.17] And, like, yeah, just - Yeah, my only family and now, like he doesn't seem like family anymore. He just seems like a friend.

[00:03:01.27] UM... The foster dad, I remember he would come into to my room at night and he would give me these - I don't know if you can call them body massages or whatever - he would just, like, massage me through my legs and start touching me in certain spots and then rub me more on my back and stuff.

[00:03:25.06] And then we used to go swimming at their cousin's - He would like, whenever we were in the pool, he would put me on his lap and he would touch me in certain places.

[00:03:36.13] Um. yeah, he would rub ice on my lips. He had this thing for rubbing ice on my lip, and rubbing his mouth I mean his finger in my mouth. I don't know.

[00:03:46.29] But, like, what they called "restraining" I didn't think was restraining.

[00:03:51.20] Like they would lay me on my back and then put my legs all the way back over my head , like to make them touch the floor and then sit on me. Like - really painful! Really painful!

[00:04:02.09] Like, put my legs all the way, like lay me on my back and then put my legs back - it's something you see in gymnastics . And then they'd cross my legs and then sit on me. I'm like a six year old. You're two adults who are twenty thousand times bigger to me and you're sitting on me.

[00:04:21.03] My legs are like, literally, crushing.

[00:04:24.19] I didn't really like being there. Oh yeah, another thing - I remember one time I woke up in the morning and - now that I'm older I understand - he was obviously playing with himself, and he knew I was watching! He had the blankets covered off of him. The foster mother was sleeping on the other side and I was about to go to the washroom and all the sudden I see this man doing something and I had no idea what he was doing!

[00:04:52.09] So I, literally, just stopped what I was doing and sat there and watched him.

[00:04:56.08] And I remember almost every day after that, every morning when I woke up I'd see him just with his blanket half covered off of him and he'd be doing that, facing my direction. SO.

[00:05:05.17] I told my worker last year. And she asked me, "Why didn't you tell me?" Because. I don't know! That was my response. I don't know why I didn't tell you. I was young and I didn't really - I don't know. I didn't tell you until now.

[00:05:26.08] You know, I would listen to the foster parents. If the foster parents are saying that the child is misbehaving all the time - First, I would want to talk to the child after and ask them what's going on in the house? What do you like? and What do you not like?

[00:05:38.08] I would want to hear what the child has to say. Because in my experience, I know that, in group homes and foster homes, they lie a lot about the children.

[00:05:49.15] They don't want the children to really speak. So I would make sure and talk to the children and also find out why they' re misbehaving.

[00:06:00.10] Why are they always running away? There's obviously a reason. But, yeah. Well just um, speak to the children. I'd ask them questions and want to hear what they like and don't like. I would just ask them certain questions.

[00:06:13.25] She would just listen to um, all the staff and their reports. They say she's misbehaving? Oh! She's misbehaving. Let's maybe just make her medication a little higher. Let's go talk to her doctor. She needs to calm down.

[00:06:26.18] I was on Ridallin and another pill. I don't remember what the other pill was - it was really shiny, though.

[00:06:35.15] And then, um, they took me off of that - the shiny one - and when I moved they also put me on um - the one was Zoloft - but the other one they stopped because it wasn't working.

[00:06:49.07] And then when I moved to Mt. Forrest, from 11-13, they put me on - Risperidone. And I kept asking them to take me off of it because I didn't feel good on it. Like, I was even wetting my bed all the time. And, I didn't really think that I was really getting happier or anything. I was actually feeling more angry -

[00:07:18.26] Um, they wouldn't listen to me. They were reducing it and then the staff would turn around and say, "Oh, it's not working on her" I mean, you guys - the reducing didn't work. So, I dunno.

[00:07:28.25] When I was around 15, I just stopped taking them. I would pretend I took them and spit them out. But, at the one group home, when I was like, 13, they'd say that if I didn't take the pills, then I wouldn't even be allowed out of my room. I couldn't even go to school. Like, OK. So I took them. I didn't want to take them.

[00:07:55.01] When you're in a group home or in a foster home there's like two, three, four, five adults all saying one thing about you. What are you going to say back? You're worker's not really going to believe you. Or really care much to say.

[00:08:08.08] Every time I asked her to move me, she didn't want to move me. From 12 to 13, I kept asking her over and over again to move me to Toronto cuz I didn't want to be in that group home. Mostly I just wanted to move to Toronto cuz I knew I would be closer to my family. I wanted to be closer to my brother, right?

[00:08:22.10] She wouldn't move me! It took me to freak out, at that group home I had to like, have a nervous break down. I didn't do much of anything - I just like, messed up the kitchen - And finally, she transferred me out to North Bay!

[00:08:38.12] Four hours away from Toronto, when I was before 2 hours. So I was like, OK, fine! You guys want to put me all the way out here, then I'll just pretend like I'm gonna try and kill myself. So I did.

[00:08:47.29] I lit my bed on fire and then told the staff that I was under there and then they transferred me all the way to Toronto into this lock-down treatment center. But it still got me into Toronto, so I was like - Hey, whatever works.

[00:09:00.26] You wouldn't move me out here when I first asked you, so it took me to do all these stupid things just to finally be heard and bring myself all the way down here. I don't know.

[00:09:09.26] You could've easily made it so simple but yet you made it so hard. When I repeat - when I'm asking for something, you don't want to listen until I do something stupid.

[00:09:20.08] When I was placed in Ajax - um, It was a single mother and a grandmother. She had her own children. I was the only foster kid.

[00:09:31.22] I didn't really feel cared about. The way I seen her treat her children was definitely not the same way she treated me. I don't know, like, we would sometimes share jokes and stuff but, she wouldn't...she - she - I don't know. I just didn't like how she would treat me a lot different than how she treated her kids.

[00:09:52.07] I mean, I'm not expecting you say, I love you and this and that and da da da da da like you're my real mom.

[00:09:57.05] But at least treat me like I'm somebody in the family. After I found my mother, because I found my mother while I was living at that foster home - and everything started to go downhill. Like, I don't know. There's this one argument that came up out of nowhere.

[00:10:14.24] She started yelling at me, and I was like, 'You know, I really feel bad for your kids because they have to see how you treat me in front of them.'

[00:10:21.09] And she's like, 'Oh, you're just jealous of them because you don't have what they have!' And, I was like, 'Wow! Wow. How could you say that someone's kid?' Like. I'm not jealous just because I couldn't be with my mom like your children could be with theirs. Like, you just don't say that to someone who's been through such a life! You just don't.

[00:10:49.16] I told her to shut up after she said that about my mom, or about me.

[00:10:52.25] She's like, 'No you shut up.' and I'm like 'No, you shut up.' She's like 'No, you shut up.' And she's like 'Oh, look at you.' And I'm like whatever - and I went upstairs. And then I heard her calling people telling them to get me out of her house. And then that night, I was moved.

[00:11:06.07] Like, I was kind of glad though, because you know, I'm not gonna - I'm not gonna be in a foster home where I'm gonna be treated like - like, um, an alien pretty much.

[00:11:16.13] And, yeah. I don't know. Early on I started getting really depressed. I don't know. I was happy, but inside I felt really sad.

[00:11:32.23] I think I was around age 10. I don't know, 8, 9 or 10 - around those age. I started tying stuff around my neck and I would lay down in the park and just wait to see what would happen. Nothing would ever happen. It just hurt so I took it off.

[00:11:56.03] I have really great big dreams for myself and I know I'm gonna accomplish them one day, but honestly, there's just too much negativity going on. Too much. And I need to get it dealt with cuz, it's like, really messing up my head.

[00:12:12.21] I'm not gonna lie, I actually recently tried to again. Um, yeah, about a month ago. It's not funny but, I took a bottle of aspirin and I was hoping it was gonna work - And it didn't. Again.

[00:12:30.04] Um. I'm in school. Yes. I mean, well, I don't know, I'm trying to finish school. I'm still in grade 10. It's a little bit of a struggle. I'm not good when it comes to stress. I'm not good with it.

[00:12:44.29] I'm not, I'm not financially stable yet. So.

[00:12:50.21] So my problem is just that - I dunno. I didn't think this place would be the way it is. Like, barely any food - I- I don't get any privacy. The staff are really disrespectful, they play mind games all the time. That's all.

[00:13:05.19] Another girl used to live here but she moved out. She didn't like it here. I don't know how she got out, but I wish I was her.

Source: Esther Buckareff