Couple kidnaps kids in care because of pandemic

Infocus
A young Manitoba couple facing kidnapping charges for taking off with their infant and toddler during a supervised child welfare visit say they have no regrets and were only trying to protect their kids during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s illegal to name people whose children are in the child welfare system.

APTN News isn’t naming their community as it could identify them.

The married couple in their early 20s lost their infant and toddler to child welfare in December allegedly over concerns that the mom was herself in care for a brief time as a teen as a result of sexual abuse allegations against her parents that were never proven.

That, plus the father’s past drug use was enough to apprehend the infant and toddler.

The couple was doing everything the agency told them to do, working to get their kids back, when the pandemic hit.

According to police, on March 23 at 10:45 a.m., the parents met an agency staff member for one of their scheduled 3 hour visits with the children, and informed her they wouldn’t be returning the children.

“We feared for our children’s health,” said the father. “And besides the obvious reason – that these are our children not the agency’s – we thought we’d get our family together to get through this pandemic. We also knew that our (in-person) visits would be canceled because of social distancing.”

Police told them they used On-Star to track their vehicle to the mom’s parents on a rural property in southeastern Manitoba.

According to police, three officers attended and were “immediately met outside by a group of  eight individuals who surrounded and physically attacked the officers,” an account the couple disputes.

They say police were the aggressors who left her father badly beaten and one of her brothers with a sprained rib.

Some were also hit with rubber bullets, they say. Police did not confirm that.

“I was inside with my mom and the children and they threw tear gas in the windows there was broken glass everywhere,” said the young mother.

“Then they busted down the door. We surrendered. They had huge machine guns pointed at us.”

That’s because, according to police, some of the people who assaulted officers had run into the house and continued to threaten them.

In the end, the mom and dad were charged with parental abduction and resisting arrest.

Six others – relatives of the mom – are charged with assaulting police, resist arrest, assault with a weapon and aiding and abetting a parental abduction.

Court proceedings are on hold because of the pandemic and none of the charges have been proven in court.

The young couple say they have no regrets about the kidnapping.

“We don’t regret it at all. We got to spend eight hours with our children – not three hours. We couldn’t have been happier,” said the mom.

“Seeing the smiles on our babies faces – no we don’t regret it at all,” said the dad.

They’ve missed their son’s first Christmas, first Easter and now will miss his first birthday at the end of this month.

“It’s devastating and really sad. I believe the first year of life for a child is the most important and he should be home with his mom and dad who love him so so much,” said the dad, adding they’re not sure how the March 23 incident will impact their visitation or eventual return of the children once the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

“We’ve been in contact with the agency about our case and honestly right now we don’t know what will happen but we’re hoping for the best.”

Host/Producer - Winnipeg

Melissa is a proud Red River Metis and award-winning journalist who has spent more 14 years covering crime, courts, politics, business and entertainment for newspapers in four provinces.
She then joined APTN Investigates in 2009 and APTN National News in 2018 and in that time has garnered numerous awards and nominations including from the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network (2013), Canadian Association of Journalists (2016, 2019) and Canadian Screen Awards (2018, 2019).