‘They just ripped them out of  my hands’: A mother shares her experience with the child welfare system on InFocus

On the second edition of a three-part series about child and family services (CFS) on InFocus, Host Melissa Ridgen talks with parents who found themselves targets of CFS agencies and how they beat. or continue to fight they system.

Stacy Owl lost her five children two years ago on the word of a tipster whom she had never met.

A woman had called CFS accusing Owl of being a “crackhead” and running a meth lab.

Owl and her family were moving from Alberta to Ontario and stopped a in a motel near the First Nation where Owl grew up.

Police and CFS workers swooped in the next day and seized the kids on the basis of what the tipster told authorities back in Alberta.

So began her family’s nightmare

“They just ripped them out of my hands,” Owl said. “So I’m crying and they’re telling me it’s because I’m withdrawing from drugs.

“You’re ripping my babies out of my arms and telling me nothing.”

Owl immediately went to a hospital for drug tests which the agency brushed off and said they’d do their own in due time.

For three months her kids were in care while she had to prove she doesn’t use crack and doesn’t have a meth lab.

“All this time, they’re drilling me about their personal baby stories, making a file for all of them.” Owl said. “I asked them why are they asking all these personal questions when those are my memories and my babies’ memories to keep, not for anybody else to share. They said, ‘oh just in case they get adopted out.’

“I asked why are you adopting my kids?”

When she finally got them back after the allegations were deemed baseless, the agency gave her $1,500 in gift cards.

She said she felt it was hush money to leave and tell no one about the ordeal.

She asked for records of the file and has been denied.

APTN Investigates reporter Kevin Nepitabo dug into the apprehension rates in Saskatchewan.

70 per cent of kids apprehended in that province are identified as Indigenous.

Nepitabo wanted to find out how this affects the children and the parents, and why indigenous families are most targeted by the CFS industry..

“I new the basics of CFS,” Nepitabo said. “I knew children were being apprehended by CFS but I didn’t know the horror stories behind it. Like going out there and hearing parents talk about their children being apprehended, that was very hard to do.

You don’t realize how much emotional impact is has on the parents and especially the child. It was very hard to hear this stuff, and I still think about it.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done in fixing it,” he said. “From all the stories I heard it seems like its a broken system. One example would be, there was a 22 month old boy who passed away in care. When CFS went to inform his mother of the boy’s death, of course she would be hysterical. And I guess she broke down, fell on the ground crying and they told her to get up or they are going to have to call the police.

“So this is how people are being treated in the system.”


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