B.C. First Nation mother reunited with newborn daughter after court case

Mother and child will reside in Port Alberni with supervision and support

  • Mar. 15, 2018 2:37 p.m.

Almost two months after giving birth to her daughter, a Huu-ay-aht mother is now able to return home to Port Alberni with her baby.

Huu-ay-aht First Nations received word on Wednesday afternoon that the Provincial Court of British Columbia Judge Flewelling ruled in favour of the mother, stating that the baby must be returned to the custody of her mother no later than Saturday, March 17.

The mother and child will reside in Port Alberni with their Huu-ay-aht family, where the Nation will offer ongoing supervision and support to both mother and child when needed. The mother will also participate in recommended programs and services, including Nuu-chah-nulth and Huu-ay-aht specific programs.

“This judgment provides strong recognition of the importance of the maternal/infant bond, and the obligation upon the Ministry to fully consider the supports that are available to keep mom and baby together, rather than simply removing the infant from the mother,” explained Maegen Giltrow, counsel for the mother and Huu-ay-aht.

“This is an especially important recognition of the role of the Huu-ay-aht community in supporting one of its citizens as she moves into the role of new mother.”

According to a press release from the Huu-ay-aht First Nation, for almost two months, the future of the child had been in question, after the Ministry of Children and Family Development apprehended the baby girl only three days after she was born, without sufficient reason. Since that time, the mother has been living out of a motel room in Courtenay, more than 100 kilometres away from her community in Port Alberni, in order to have access to her baby.

Following a BC Supreme Court Ruling in mid-February, the mother was given more access to her child for bonding and breastfeeding purposes. Huu-ay-aht First Nations continued to press in Provincial Court that being returned to her mother was in the child’s best interest.

The Court held that in Courtenay, the mother did not have the supports that she needed from her own community and family—supports that are essential for her to properly care for her child.

“This ruling helps establish a solid foundation for mom and baby to begin a happy and healthy life together, with support of family and community,” said Huu-ay-aht Councillor Sheila Charles.

“With this strong foundation, this baby will have every opportunity to grow up safe, supported, and loved by both her mother’s and father’s First Nations.”

In early March, Huu-ay-aht First Nations declared the treatment of Huu-ay-aht children in British Columbia a public health emergency.

To date, Huu-ay-aht has funded more than $600,000 to start implementing the 30 recommendations from an independent Social Services Panel on how to stop the cycle of breaking Huu-ay-aht families up into the foster care system.

“Huu-ay-aht has a strong and accountable plan for ensuring our children grow up safe, healthy, and connected with their Huu-ay-aht family and culture. We can’t do it alone,” said Charles.

“We need the provincial and federal governments to do their part. Today’s decision is helpful in setting clear standards to ensure Indigenous communities are part of the planning for our children.”

Just Posted

Port McNeill Volunteer Fire Department appoints deputy chief

Port McNeill Fire Chief Dean Tait has appointed 10+ year firefighter veteran… Continue reading

Port McNeill in Focus: Childcare Availability Crisis a Good News/Bad News Story

On average, childcare across the country is unavailable, unaffordable, and the quality varies.

Notice of change of operator for Mount Waddington transit services

The Regional District of Mount Waddington (RDMW) and BC Transit have received… Continue reading

Is Steve Nash Vancouver Island’s best athlete of all-time?

As Captain Canada gets ready to enter basketball’s Hall of Fame it’s time to debate his legacy

Who is Vancouver Island’s greatest athlete ever?

We want to know, you get to choose in a 64-athlete tournament bracket

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

SAR scaling back in Kilmer search, but friends will keep looking

Search for 41-year-old Cobble Hill dad hits six-day mark

Rachel Notley to skip premiers conference to focus on pipeline deal

Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project until it receives assurances

B.C. tech company will power Uber Elevate

Moli and Uber announce research and development partnership.

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

Still no sign of missing father in Cowichan Valley

Search group for Ben Kilmer now stands 40 SAR volunteers and another 100 friends and concerned community members

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

Most Read