Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Seized Mennonite children home soon

Should be back with families by end of month: lawyer

  • Print

About half of the 40 children seized from an Old Order Mennonite community in Manitoba could be back with their parents by the end of the month, a lawyer for some of the families said Friday.

The children were taken by social workers in June after 13 people in the orthodox community were charged with child abuse -- including alleged assaults using cattle prods, whips and leather straps.

Five couples, who have a total of 19 children, were at a court hearing Friday that was closed to the media. Afterward, their lawyer, Paul Walsh, said Child and Family Services has agreed to a timeline that will see all of his clients' children returned by Nov. 1.

"I think we have a clear commitment from the agency and a clear timeline," Walsh said.

'It's taken far too long and the children will recover, I hope... but one has to be pleased today'

-- Paul Walsh, Mennonite community's lawyer

"It's taken far too long and the children will recover, I hope... but one has to be pleased today."

One of the parents told reporters he is hoping to see his two children soon.

"Seeing is believing, I guess, but we've had a lot of delays," the man said.

"Last time we had a visit, (my son) saw our horse and buggy and we let him sit on the buggy... but when the social worker wanted to take him back to the van again, then he had to cry again because he had his hopes up. He thought we were going home finally."

The lawyer for the family services agency would not comment outside court.

Only one of Walsh's clients is facing an assault charge and it does not involve a family member, Walsh said. He represents primarily younger families. All their children are under nine years of age.

As part of the agreement reached Friday, Walsh's clients are to have social workers visit their homes and check on the children. The parents have also agreed to follow guidelines as to how they can interact physically with their children and other conditions.

Walsh said his clients did not assault their children and accused social workers of going too far in seizing dozens of kids from the community.

"My clients insist that there's nothing that they have done that doesn't, in the past, conform with what they're being asked to do."

The other families are represented by a different lawyer and there is no word yet on when they might get their children back. None of the assault allegations has been proven in court.

The identities of the children are protected under a publication ban. The Canadian Press is not naming the accused or the small community where they live.

Old Order Mennonites shun modern conveniences, including electricity and cars, and adhere strictly to biblical teachings. While most believe in corporal punishment, those who know people in the community say they are inherently non-violent.

Jay Rogers, the CEO of Manitoba's general family-services authority, has said social workers were justified in removing the children.

The seizure did not result from any cultural misunderstanding, but from specific allegations, Rogers said last month.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 A5

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

The Winnipeg Free Press is not accepting comments on this story.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Glenn January won't blame offensive line for first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 110621 - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 -  Doug Chorney, president Keystone Agricultural Producers flight over South Western Manitoba to check on the condition of farming fields. MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
my2011poy
  • July 1, 2012 - 120701  -   Canada Day fireworks at The Forks from the Norwood Bridge Sunday, July 1, 2012.    John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Which of Manitoba's new landlord-tenant rules are you looking forward to most?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google