(L to R) Darius, Tamara, Anthony, Lee, Miah and Jeremiah (submitted photo).
The woman behind the ‘Twitter Mom’ handle is considering suing the Manitoba government, her lawyer says.
Katherine Hensel, who helped Tamara Malcolm get her children out of foster care, says it’s the next step.
“We’re examining that option,” Hensel says from Toronto.
“It’s always been in the back of her mind and our minds on her behalf.”
The reason behind such court action is two-fold, Hensel says: to obtain financial compensation as the family recovers from its 11-year ordeal and help them reform the child welfare system.
“It’s really unfortunate, but the most efficient legal route for doing that is often a lawsuit,” Hensel says.
“This family and these children will spend generations recovering from this, these experiences.”
Malcolm announced Nov. 16 her youngest son was free and clear of any child welfare orders and her family was reunited.
She was sharing developments on Twitter for more than a year breaching strict privacy rules.
One agency threatened to withhold visits unless she stopped tweeting, Hensel says.
Another time, Hensel says Malcolm’s son was told his mother was dead.
Malcolm had three sons in care: one aged out, the middle one returned last year and the third came back a few months ago.
“This family – this mom – needed help and assistance,” says Christi Belcourt, an Indigenous activist and family supporter.
“Instead of making sure they were all safe, they took her children and ripped her family apart.”
West Region Child and Family Services had custody of Malcolm’s youngest son. The voicemail of executive director Stella Bone was full and APTN News was told Bone was out of the office until Thursday.
Heather Stefanson, Manitoba’s minister of child and family services, provided this statement to APTN:
“In family reunification cases, agencies work to support the family as a unit and as individuals and want to ensure success. It is positive to hear this family and agency worked together and agreed on planning in the children’s best interest.”
Belcourt, who encouraged Malcolm to tell her story on Twitter, is hoping people on the social media platform will help Malcolm pay off her $170,000 legal bill.
Hensel says she and her co-workers spent more time getting the kids back than the “modest” figure reflects.
“It wasn’t just me. It was my entire team at my law firm – sometimes full time and around the clock – working on this case in order to get it to where the agency should have done it voluntarily of its own initiative.”
A cost, says Hensel, out of reach of most parents and families.
Yet Hensel took this case because she says Malcolm is “unique” – with a mental and physical resolve few people have in the face of extraordinary stress.
“Any person going in would be reasonably compromised and incapacitated by what she and her family went through.
“Yet she never wavered or faltered…(and) that resolve extends to seeking remedies in the future.”
Malcolm is remarried to a new partner with whom she has a daughter and runs her own business.
They are an Indigenous couple living in Ontario that take teachings and ceremony seriously.
Malcolm tried to capture her feelings in a two-page statement she posted on Twitter, along with a photo of her smiling family.
“I want to state emphatically that I believe a criminal act has taken place in regards to my family…”
Yet her family did not break, she writes.
“I will continue to tell my story and my journey as an advocate for families will continue because until all our kids are free, none of us are.”