Mom gave up ‘J’ to First Nations foster care so she would have a better life

The mother of a young woman at the centre of a disturbing RCMP interrogation video said she was trying to give her daughter a better, Indigenous-centred life by giving her up to First Nations foster care in British Columbia.

“I was heavily into alcohol and drugs,” she admitted tearfully in a recent interview with APTN News in Kelowna, B.C.

“I was leaving the kids at home for the weekend and there was no food and no support for them.”

APTN is protecting the woman’s identity to protect her daughter.

She said she has been sober for seven years.

The mother said she voluntarily gave up her children after her daughter reported the lack of food in their home.

“I knew that I was not providing a safe environment for my children,” she said. “I hated myself for it.

“You know I felt guilt every time I came home and I, and I couldn’t stop,”

She admits there was abuse of all kinds against her children.

Her two younger sons were placed with family but no safe relatives could be found for “J”.

She asked for her then 13 year old daughter to be placed in the First Nations stream of foster care so that she could have access to her cultural background.

“I was hoping that “J” would find the culture and the support that she needed,” she said. “I thought if I chose the First Nations ministry, she would get a little bit more protection there and a little bit more love and a little bit more support that I couldn’t provide for her at the time and that wasn’t the case.”

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She said “J” did find some aspects of the culture. She attended a cultural club and went to sweat lodges. But according a statement of claim against social worker Siobhan Stynes, she was prevented from accessing those activities as a punishment for reporting the sexual assault.

“The Defendant arriving at her own conclusion in regards to the allegation, punished the Plaintiff by removing extracurricular activities from the Plaintiff causing isolation and depression.” the statement of claim reads in part.

Read: Statement of Claim 

“J” said Stynes banning her from Indigenous cultural activities was devastating for her.

“After this rape allegation came out, she banned me from going to places like the sweat lodge. She banned me from attending Culture Club for foster kids and she banned me from going to my youth group which was Aboriginal-based.”

She said when she was living with her mom, she was gone all the time, they barely had food in the house but at least she was together with her brothers.

“I don’t feel like I had a better life,” she said, adding that she has had very little contact with her brothers in the years since there were separated by the system.

Reflecting on the video that has sparked outrage across the country, “J” mother said she still feels a lot of guilt and shame.

“No mother wants her daughter to go through that I should have been there for her but I wasn’t and I can’t change the past but I can help her today.” she said. ”So that’s why I’m doing whatever I need to do for her no matter what.”

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