The British Columbia foster parents of a Métis toddler have lost an emergency motion in the Supreme Court of Canada to keep the little girl until their appeal is settled.
"We're devastated by it," said the girl's foster mother, who cannot be identified. "It's very much a forceful removal of a healthy, happy child that's been in a bonded Métis home for three years."
The couple's lawyer says the Children's Ministry plans to fly the little girl to Ontario today to live with non-Indigenous adoptive parents and her biological sisters, who she has never met.
"She must be completely confused. It's terrifying to think of what she's feeling right now," said the foster mother.
The Vancouver Island couple filed leave to appeal to the Supreme Court and sought an injunction to stop the ministry from moving the girl until their leave application is decided.
But Canada's highest court ruled that the best interests of the child are paramount and favour the continuation of the ministry's transition plan for the nearly three-year-old girl.
The couple raised the Métis tot from birth and had argued it was in the best interests of the child to keep her with them in B.C. where they were raising her in the Métis tradition.
But B.C.'s Ministry of Children and Family Development wanted the little girl moved to a non-Indigenous couple in Ontario who had previously adopted the child's two older sisters.
According to today's ruling, the plan to move the child began on Sept. 15 and stopping the process would result in unnecessary hardship.
It calls the motion a "heart-wrenching last attempt" by the foster parents to retain care of a child they love but says it does not meet the test for a stay of proceedings and must be dismissed with costs to the ministry.
With files from Eric Rankin