5 Jul 2008

Mother of girl with swastika wants children back

CTV News - Canada July 4, 2008

by CTV.ca News Staff

Manitoba Child and Family services was in court Monday to argue for permanent guardianship of a girl and boy, after the girl was sent to school sporting a swastika -- a symbol typically associated with racially-motivated hate groups.

The children's mother denies she has done anything wrong.

"I think I'm a pretty good mother. I've raised my children to have pride in themselves. That's all I've ever done." she told CTV News, as she sat beneath a banner with the slogan "White Pride Worldwide."

Child services was called to a city elementary school in March after the girl, 7, arrived at school with a Swastika, the words "Hail Victory" and "Aryan Pride" written on her arms and one leg in permanent maker.

The number "14/88," a reference to Hitler, was also written on the little girl. The 14 refers to the number of words in the slogan: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children." The 88 stands for HH and means "Heil Hitler."

Police and officials from the department went to the family's Winnipeg home and seized the girl's two-year-old brother, and in the process discovered what they said was evidence of the parents' neo-Nazi beliefs.

The mother of the children has maintained she is not a neo-Nazi, but is simply proud of her northern European background and describes herself as a "white nationalist."

She said her daughter drew the swastika on her own arm after taking part in a "white pride" racist march in Calgary. When the girl's teacher washed the symbol off, the mother and daughter drew it on again with a marker.

The mother said drawing the swastika was stupid, but insisted the act harmed no one and her beliefs are a family matter.

"It's OK to be proud to be a native, it's OK to preach black power," she said, before adding, "But when you're white and you're proud, it's wrong."

The case against the mother and another man -- reportedly the father of the boy and stepfather of the girl, but now separated from the mother -- has attracted international attention.

Child services says it's concerned the parent's conduct might endanger the emotional well-being of the children. It's also said the children may be at risk of harm because of the parent's associations.

Experts have said it's the first time in years in Canada that children have been removed from their home due to the parents' beliefs.

Prof. Arthur Schafer, director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba, said many Canadian parents are intolerant, homophobic or sexist. But despite their disgusting views, it's not enough for the state to intervene.

"I don't think teaching your children loathsome, intolerable, bigoted views counts as psychological abuse," he said. "Or if it did, we'd have to seize hundreds of thousands of Canadian children."

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