British Columbia

Planned move of B.C. Métis toddler to Ontario delayed

CBC News has learned the planned move of a Métis toddler from B.C. to Ontario has been delayed — but it has not been cancelled.

Relocation against foster parents' wishes has not been cancelled, but longer plan for relocation approved

The toddler at the heart of the custody controversy, before being removed from the home of Métis foster parents. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

CBC News has learned the planned move of a Métis toddler from B.C. to Ontario has been delayed — but has not been cancelled.

The Ministry of Children and Family Services removed the three-year-old from her Métis foster parents — the only parents she's known since birth — on Sunday.

The original plan had been to fly the child to her new adoptive parents on Sept. 23. That family, which is not Métis, had previously adopted the toddler's siblings.

A ministry email obtained by the CBC states "The [Representative for Children and Youth] met with the [ministry] today, and reviewed our transition plan. Both have agreed to a longer...plan."

The email goes on to note this will allow the foster parents — who have been fighting the move in the courts for the past year — more time to meet with the adoptive parents, who have been flown to B.C. from Ontario.

Those meetings will be overseen by a psychologist who specializes in adoption issues.

The email does not say when the child will be flown to Ontario, and all parties involved can't be identified under a court-ordered publication ban.

Lengthy court battle

The case has generated controversy over what is best for a Métis child — to be raised by indigenous foster parents in B.C., or live with siblings adopted by a non-Indigenous family in another province.

The foster parents have launched numerous unsuccessful court challenges to try to keep the child, and on Sept. 22 the Ministry asked a B.C. Supreme Court judge to reject the couple's request for a further review of their decision, to which the judge reserved judgment.

Earlier in the day the representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, called on B.C.'s Attorney General to intervene and review the case, and to "show leadership on a matter that is crucial to Indigenous legal issues."

"S.S" plays with her foster mother in happier times. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

The ministry issued a statement in response, repeating its previous position that "When placement with non-Aboriginal caregivers is considered to be in a child's best interests, a social worker must seek approval from a ministry exceptions committee comprised of First Nations, Métis, and child welfare representatives before placing an Aboriginal child in a non-Aboriginal home."

In an interview with CBC News Wednesday, the Métis foster mother of the toddler described the child's removal on Sunday as a "punch in the gut."