29 Oct 2010

Parents accused of racist teachings begin court battle for children

CBC News - Canada May 25, 2009

Girl watched skinhead videos and talked of how to kill, hearing told

Disturbing evidence is coming out at a child welfare case in Winnipeg on Monday, where the parents of two children are accused of teaching them that black people and other minorities deserve to die.

In a court hearing scheduled to run all week, Manitoba Child and Family Services is applying for guardianship of a girl and boy who were seized from their home last year after the girl showed up at her elementary school with symbols used by white supremacists drawn on her body.

In March 2008, the girl, then seven, went to school with a swastika on her arm. The teacher scrubbed it off in the afternoon but the girl showed up again the next day with another one, along with other white supremacist symbols drawn on her body.

Child and Family Services case workers were alerted and went to the family's apartment, where they found neo-Nazi symbols and flags, and took custody of the couple's two-year-old son. The daughter was picked up by family services at her school.

The government agency is worried about the "psychological impact upon the children stemming from the [parents'] acute hatred for other people," according to an affidavit filed by the lead social worker in the case.

The judge presiding over the hearing will be receiving testimony and other submissions from child welfare officials and lawyers this week. None can be identified to protect the identities of the children.
Girl well versed in hate propaganda: social worker

On Monday, the social worker that interviewed the girl said she was well versed in racist and hateful propaganda.

She said the swastika symbol meant "heil Hitler" and she spoke about people of other races and how they should all be dead because this is a white man's world, the social worker testified.

The girl also provided graphic suggestions of how to kill people, the social worker said.

During their interview, the girl also told the social worker that she watched skinhead videos on the internet with her parents and knew that her parents belonged to a skinhead website. She also knew their password-protected log-ins, which gave her full access.

The social worker also told the court the little girl said to her, near the end of the interview, "You know what? I'm not going to tell my mom and dad that I spoke to you, because if I do, the whole white supremacist society will be after you."
Parents separated, each seeking custody

Child welfare officials are scheduled to testify all week. Then the hearing will break and resume in June, when the lawyers for the parents will make their arguments at the end of that month.

The parents no longer live together and each has asked for custody of the children.

The girl's stepfather has launched a constitutional complaint, saying social workers violated his freedom of expression, religion and association by apprehending the children.

The mother is not living in Manitoba anymore and wasn't in court. Her lawyer's request for an adjournment Monday morning was rejected.

The case has garnered international attention and sparked debate over how far parents can go to instill beliefs in their children — and how far the government should go to protect children from those beliefs.

In his opening statement, the lawyer for Child and Family Services said this is not a case about a family's political views. He argued it is a child protection case involving drug and alcohol abuse, criminal behaviour, domestic violence, and mental health concerns.

He said it also involves a girl who showed up at school "painted up in permanent ink like a billboard."
Girl told not to have non-white friends: affidavit

According to an affidavit filed by the lead social worker in the case, the girl has said she was told by her mother not to have any non-white friends or she would not have a mother anymore, according to the document.

The children's mother has not yet responded to the allegations in court documents. In an interview last year with The Canadian Press, she denied being a neo-Nazi and called herself simply a "proud Scottish chick."

She defended the Nazi swastika, saying it stems from an ancient symbol for prosperity.

The allegations of racism are not the only concern for child welfare workers. The couple is also accused of failing to provide adequate care for their kids.

The girl missed many days of school because her parents wanted to sleep in, and frequently had to remind her stepfather to change her brother's diaper, according to the social worker's affidavit. The boy's language development is delayed, the worker wrote.

The father denies those accusations as well.

"In my opinion, both [the mother] and I were excellent parents," he wrote in the affidavit.

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