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.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Local liquor store raising funds for food bank

On May 30, a portion of sales at JAK’s Beer Wine & Spirits will be donated to the food bank

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

City of Campbell River re-opening most park amenities and outdoor washrooms

Splash park, playgrounds, sports fields, outdoor volleyball courts, indoor facilities not yet

First Nation’s guardians ‘take matters into their own hands’ and organize environmental clean-up

Mamalilikulla guardians step up to clear abandoned boats after no response from natural resource officers

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Mirror business directory and map

If you’d like to be added to the list, shoot us an email

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Most Read