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This article was published 23/6/2009 (4231 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WINNIPEG — A young girl who showed up at her Winnipeg elementary school with white supremacist markings all over her body may have represented the "tip of the iceberg" of what was happening in her home, a psychologist testified today.

The psychologist told court he was very concerned about racist comments posted online by the girl's mother and stepfather, in which they graphically discuss their hatred of blacks, Jews and other minorities. The Internet chat room discussions occurred before the girl and her younger brother were seized in March 2008 by Child and Family Services.

"It may have indicated a set style of beliefs that things may have been going on (in the home) for some time," said the psychologist .

CFS is seeking a permanent order of guardianship for the two children in a case that has made headlines around the world. The agency claims the parent's neo-Nazi beliefs amount to emotional abuse and put the kids at risk.

The child custody trial resumed Tuesday following a two-week break. For the first time, the children's mother was present. She had been in Quebec when the trial began and claimed financial problems kept her from returning to Winnipeg. The woman does not have a lawyer but is allowed to sit at counsel table with her estranged husband and his lawyer and ask questions in cross-examination.

The psychologist was tasked with doing a "parental capacity assessment" and spent hours interviewing the parents, children and several others with connections to the family. His testimony is expected to stretch into Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, the girl's former teacher took the witness stand to describe a disturbing meeting she had with the mother in November 2007.

The teacher said the woman showed up 45 minutes late for a parent-teacher conference, her breath smelling of alcohol.

"She said 'Sorry I`m late, I stopped for a beer'," said the teacher. Her seven-year-old daughter was with her at the time.

The teacher said their 20-minute meeting went poorly, with the mother taking no interest in her child's performance in school.

"Mom was more keen on talking about herself, how she did in high school...her academic talents," she said.

In cross-examination, the teacher admitted the girl was a bright student who got along well with her classmates – at least half of which were of a visible minority. She said there were no concerns about any racism.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
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Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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