Jan Wade hasn’t seen her granddaughter Sofii Doyle since September of 2014 where they had a few moments together on the steps of the courthouse in Mexico City.
Soffi was taken into the custody by her mother in summer of 2013 who has not given her back. Despite her father, Jeff Doyle, having sole custody and numerous Mexico court orders in his favour, he has been unable to bring his daughter home.
“We tried to do everything legally and in Sofii’s best interests,” Wade said. “We still can’t get her back.”
Though Doyle appealed, through his MP Rachel Blaney, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for assistance they couldn’t promise anything more than assistance with Sofii’s passport. In a letter addressed to Blaney and forwarded by Blaney to Wade, Stephane Dion, minister of Foreign Affairs, explained that Canada cannot interfere in the legal proceedings of another country.
The family’s last hope is that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will bring the matter to Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto when he is in Ottawa on June 29.
In order to get Trudeau’s attention, Wade and Doyle are heading to Ottawa to stage a protest as well as writing letters and campaigning on social media using #bringsofiihome.
Doyle originally gave his ex-wife permission to take Sofii on a three week trip to Mexico in July of 2013, but they never returned.
When Doyle realized his six-year-old daughter and ex-wife weren’t returning to Canada he went straight to the RCMP.
“They wrote up charges and sent them off to crown counsel,” Wade said. “[The RCMP] have been wonderful.”
However, Crown Counsel would not press charges. In a letter to Wade dated Sept. 15, 2015, Crown Counsel for the region, John Labossiere, explained that they could not press charges because there was not sufficient evidence that Soffi’s mother had planned to take Sofii and not return. According to Wade, Sofii’s mother has admitted in Mexican court that it was her plan all along, however the documents have not been forwarded to Crown Counsel.
In June of 2014 Doyle went to the B.C. Supreme Court to get an official document showing he is Sofii’s legal guardian.
“That’s a tough thing to do as a father,” Doyle told the Mirror at the time.
What followed was a series of legal proceedings in Mexico.
Doyle and Wade flew down to Mexico for the initial trial on Sept. 22, 2014. Unfortunately the judge didn’t show up and the trial was postponed for a week.
At the rescheduled trial, the judge awarded Doyle two preliminary visits with his daughter at a government run facility.
“Those precious hours with Sofii gave me an opportunity to feel whole again, alive again, with hope and love and invigorated as a parent to be with my daughter, laughing, playing, holding hands, talking for hours,” Jeff previously told the Mirror. “The whole time [I was] holding back tears as the clock ticked away the hours as if they were minutes.”
In court on Oct. 7 the judge granted a restitution order in Doyle’s favour, but allowed 10 days for Sofii’s mother to make an appeal. During that time she prevented Doyle from seeing his daughter and Mexican officials from checking on her.
Since that time there has been 13 court orders in Doyle’s favour.
“The original judge said that it was a clear case of parent manipulation and every court has said that,” Wade said.
The next step should have been for Mexican Interpol to locate Sofii, pick her up, and notify Doyle, who would then fly down and pick her up, but it hasn’t happened.
“It’s stalled,” Wade said. “That’s the worst thing is that it is so hard on Sofii, and the longer it goes on, the harder it is.”
*With files from Paul Rudan and Alistair Taylor