It’s been 18 days since a Thunder Bay mother revoked her consent to her children being in care.
By law she should have had a court hearing within the first five days or her children returned.
But Dilico Anishinabek Family Care hasn’t responded to her lawyer.
The mother wants to know how it isn’t kidnapping when the law states Dilico has to respond within five to test the merits of their apprehension.
“It’s unprofessional. It angers me. I am trying to get my kids back and they won’t even respond to a letter from a lawyer,” said the mother, who can’t be identified under the law.
That lawyer is Marco Frangione who represents parents in cases against child welfare agencies in northwestern Ontario.
“If an agreement is revoked the agencies should follow the law and attempt to legitimize the placement of children in care, failing which the children should be returned to their original caregiver,” said Frangione.
That’s how it’s supposed to work.
The mother said she either signed a customary or temporary care agreement but never had legal advice when she gave consent for her children to be put in care.
“I don’t want to miss anymore,” she said.
Frangione said her file is not an isolated case.
“This file speaks to how many First Nations clients and families are very much disenfranchised from the system. Independent legal advice is important, especially for legitimacy and accountability within the child welfare system,” said Frangione. “One cannot lose parental rights via an agreement that has not been looked over.”
But he also can’t see the file, even as the mother’s lawyer.
“I’ve requested the file and was told by the agency lawyer to speak with a manager. I followed up directly with the agency and still haven’t received a response,” he said.
“It’s been my experience that Dilico will not provide disclosure unless it’s with a court order and when I do receive the records they’re always incomplete.”
Frangione not only wants to see the file to help the mother get her children back but also see if one of them was adopted out.
“I lost one of my daughter’s through adoption,” said the mother. “There was absolutely no warning. I didn’t know what to do.”
APTN News asked for comment from Darcia Borg, executive director of Dilico. While it’s doubtful Borg can respond directly to this case she was asked why the five-day rule isn’t followed.
“If Dilico is not able to legally account for the whereabouts of children after their parents have revoked their consents, when parents call this kidnapping I understand where they are coming from,” said Frangione.
As for the mother, she waits but it’s getting harder to do so.
“I just feel like giving up,” she said.
Dilico is located on Fort William First Nation near Thunder Bay where it also has an office and surrounding areas.