22 Nov 2010

Manitoba judge rejects custody bid by neo-Nazi parents who painted swastikas on kids to promote racist views

Winnipeg Free Press - February 12, 2010

Manitoba judge upholds decision to seize children of alleged white supremacists

By Bruce Owen | Winnipeg Free Press

WINNIPEG — A bid by a white supremacist to get custody of his young son and older stepdaughter fell apart Thursday after a judge ruled the man has a long way to go to be a responsible parent.

The decision ends a case that saw the girl used as a "personal billboard" for white supremacist slogans, and a claim the children's apprehension by child welfare authorities violated their parents right to freedom of expression.

The kids will continue to live with their foster parents as permanent wards of Child and Family Services, Court of Queen's Bench judge Marianne Rivoalen said.

The judge said the case has nothing to do with racism or free speech, but is about protecting two innocent kids from bad parents.

"What is clear from all of the evidence is that these two children have been exposed to a whole constellation of parental inadequacies," Rivoalen wrote in a 34-page decision.

The home environment included violence, drug use, unchanged diapers, missed meals, criminal acts and shooting squirrels and birds in front of the children to feed to the family dog.

"Now add to this milieu neo-Nazi flags hanging in the windows and neo-Nazi regalia on display elsewhere inside the home," Rivoalen said. "This was not a wholesome or nourishing environment in which to raise young children with developing minds and characters."

The mother of both children said she wants to be their mom again.

"I'm not surprised by the decision, nor am I fully disappointed," said the woman in her late 20s. "If I need a year to prove myself to them and go back to court, then I have that year.

"Hopefully in that time I can regain some contact with the kids and maybe I can even regain some contact with (the foster mom)."

She said she has recently moved back to Winnipeg from Montreal and started work at a local restaurant.

She said Child and Family Services has agreed to pay for a private therapist so she can put her past behind her and learn how to be a responsible mother. She hasn't seen her children since March 2008.

"Previous acquaintances that I've had, I've dropped all contact with," she said. "I won't be seeing any of them to have any of them bring me down."

It was her own actions two years ago that resulted in her children being taken away and launched a case that generated headlines across the country.

Both children were apprehended by CFS after the girl went to school with drawings of swastikas on her and racist slogans written on her in permanent marker.

The girl told a social worker called in by the school that the symbols were put on by her mother and explained what each meant. She then pulled up her pant leg, showing more supremacist writing.

The child told the worker, "What people don't understand is that black people should die." Without pausing, the girl then described how to kill a black person.

Police were called in and similar markings were found on the girl's stepbrother. Both children were soon removed from the home.

The mother has said she did it to get the school's attention because she was concerned about a lack of homework given the girl and about the school not returning phone calls.

Rivoalen said the "cultish slogans" written on the children was akin to an assault.

"Teaching one's child that 'black people just need to die' is not just reprehensible parenting," she said. "Advocating genocide and the wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group are crimes in this country. These children have a right to be protected from these things."

Rivoalen also said the man was unfit to look after the children.

Lawyer Catherine Dunn said her client was "emotionally devastated" by the decision. "Obviously, this has been a hard road for him to go down," she said.

"He's instructed me to appeal. From his perspective, the children are still quite bonded with him," Dunn said.

The girl's biological father said he supports having the child live with her foster mother, but only temporarily. He and the girl's mother split up when the girl was two.

"If CFS got behind (the mother) and if they structured a program for her and showed how it's possible to be single parent with two kids, that's what she needs. She doesn't need criticism — she needs help. She needs some structure."

Rivoalen also dismissed the constitutional question of freedom of expression.

The biological mother and the stepfather said they followed the Norse Odinist religion and that the swastika was a religious symbol.

Rivoalen said she didn't believe that for a second.

"It is apparent that (the mother) used her child's body as a personal billboard to espouse racist views. (She) sought celebrity, sacrificed her children's dignity on the alter of sensationalism and achieved some notoriety. That was a pathetic cry for attention."

— with files from Gabrielle Giroday, Winnipeg Free Press

This article was found at:



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