B.C.'s child advocate calls on attorney general to intervene in Métis toddler case
'We need the attorney general to help ensure that this child’s cultural rights are protected'
B.C.'s child advocate is calling on the province's attorney general to intervene in the case of a child known only as S.S. — a Métis toddler recently taken from her foster parents — saying there is no existing framework or guidelines in an unusual case like this one.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond wants Attorney General Suzanne Anton to ensure the girl's cultural rights are properly considered given her placement with a family she's never known.
Turpel-Lafond is acting on advice from three leading Métis cultural experts and believes the child's Métis heritage has not been given due consideration in the case.
The foster parents lost an appeal court battle, Sept. 13, to keep the child when the court rejected their bid to fight the provincial government's plans for her future.
Turpel-Lafond is asking Anton to return the child to her B.C. foster parents until B.C.'s policies and laws can be reviewed in light of guidance from Dr. Nicolas Vrooman, Dr. Maria Campbell and Dr. Paul Chartrand.
Tony Belcourt, the former president of the Métis Nation of Ontario, is also urging authorities take a second look at the case.
"I strongly urge you to consider the modest request made by B.C.'s [child advocate] to permit the review of evidence," said Belcourt.
The child was recently removed from the home of her foster parents where she's resided since infancy, with plans to place her with a non-Métis Ontario family who already care for siblings she has never met.
"I am asking for the attorney general to show leadership on a matter that is crucial to Indigenous legal issues," said Turpel-Lafond.
"There is no existing practice, framework or guideline for such matters, and we need the attorney general to help ensure this child's cultural rights are protected to the best standard possible."
The Métis foster parents have been told the three-year-old will be flown to live with a non-Métis family in Ontario.
The child's birth parents also live in B.C. and have mounted a charter challenge to the decision, according to the appeal court ruling.
All involved can't be named under a court-ordered publication ban.
With files from Eric Rankin