Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mennonites excited, impatient to get kids back

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An Old Order Mennonite man whose children were among dozens apprehended by Child and Family Services says he's excited his kids may soon return after months away from home.

He just wishes it hadn't taken so long.

"I'm excited about the idea," the father said. "But I guess, because we don't know why there's (been a) dragging out, patience is wearing thin."

All children under 18 years old were seized by CFS from his Manitoba horse-and-buggy community in January and June due to allegations of physical abuse.

Community members said the charges relate to allegations of extreme discipline using objects. The Crown alleges an effort to extract false allegations of sexual abuse from children.

Thirteen adult community members have been charged.

The community can't be named due to a court-ordered publication ban.

The children -- aged one to 15 -- have been placed in homes across the province with Mennonite caregivers.

"None have been returned yet, although we are close," General Child and Family Services Authority CEO Jay Rodgers said on Friday.

Parents from five families, who have 19 children in care, and their lawyer Paul Walsh met with a CFS lawyer and a judge in Winnipeg a week ago.

After the meeting, it was reported Walsh said CFS agreed to return the 19 children to their parents by Nov. 1.

Walsh couldn't immediately be reached on Friday to confirm or clarify his comment.

Rodgers said 19 children will not be returned by Nov. 1, and CFS has not agreed to that. There's been no agreement that specifies a certain number of children will return by a certain date, he said.


-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 12, 2013 A12

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