Nova Scotia

Ex-foster child goes to court for details of her past

A former foster child says Nova Scotia's Department of Community Services is withholding information that would help her understand her own life.

A former foster child says Nova Scotia's Department of Community Services is withholding information that would help her understand her own life.

Amanda Sutherland, 41, is preparing to go to court to force the department to give her the details she wants.

Sutherland requested a government file about her life. She received papers, but all of the names were deleted.

She isn't impressed with the department's explanation that it has to protect the information of any third parties listed on the file.

"To have every single person that was involved in my life deleted and being told as a former foster child that I'm an unreasonable invasion into those people that were a part of my life, I think sends a terrible message to foster children in this province," she told CBC News.

Sutherland was born on Sept. 15, 1969, at Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow. She entered care as a toddler and had nine foster families over 18 years.

Only the details of her birth are in the government document. The names of her biological parents, foster parents, and even high school teachers are all missing.

Sutherland knows some names, including those of her parents and some foster families. But she was hoping to get more details from the province.

"I wanted to have healing and closure and understand my past in its entirety," she said.

Community Services says it cannot comment on an individual case. A spokesperson said the department can't assume that people want their information released, so it doesn't name them.

Sutherland's last foster mother told CBC News she had no problem releasing her personal information. In her opinion, they already know each other.

Sutherland is taking Community Services to court to get the information she wants. She hopes her case sets a precedent for other foster children trying to uncover their past.

Her case is scheduled to be heard in Nova Scotia Supreme Court this fall.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said Amanda Sutherland was suing the Department of Community Services. That is incorrect; she is appealing their decision in court.
    Jul 01, 2011 12:34 PM AT