Seized Mennonite children should go home, says adviser
An adviser working with an old-order Mennonite community in rural Manitoba where dozens of children were seized last year says it's time for them to return to their families.
It has been almost a year since some of the children were apprehended by child-welfare officials after allegations surfaced of physical abuse.
Thirteen adults were charged with offences, some accused of assaulting children with a cattle prod and a strap. Community leaders have said the charges stem from disciplinary practices used on some of the children.
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In total, about 40 children were removed from their homes and the community last year.
A court-ordered publication ban means neither the Mennonite community nor the people charged can be named in order to protect the identities of the alleged victims.
Child and Family Services officials have since been working with community members to have the children returned, provided the adults are prepared to change their ways. Some of the children have already been reunited with their parents.
Peter Rempel, who is working with the community's adults, says the parents have taken parenting classes and counselling and can be trusted.
"They have not ever heard a word of hot anger spoken, so there's still a remarkable composure," he told CBC News on Thursday.
In the meantime, the children are living in Mennonite foster homes.
Rempel has written to Manitoba Justice officials, asking for the children to be sent back to their home community.
He said there are concerns that so much time has passed, the children may have a difficult time returning to the old-order community, which has no electricity, telephones or running water.
"The children are starting to [and] will be distancing themselves, detaching themselves from their home community, their parents," Rempel said.