News / Winnipeg

‘Bring my children home’: Woman fundraises for legal battle against Manitoba childcare

Tamara Malcolm, who has been vocal on Twitter about her decade-long struggle to get her kids back, recently started a GoFundMe page to raise money for a lawyer.

A Serpent River First Nation woman has started a crowdfunding campaign to cover legal fees as she fights to get her children out of Manitoba’s foster care system.

Tamara Malcolm, who has been vocal on Twitter about her decade-long struggle to get her children back, recently started a GoFundMe page to raise money for a lawyer. As of Monday, the page had reached $2,980 of its $50,000 goal.

The page says Malcolm’s three children were apprehended by Winnipeg’s Child and Family Services (CFS) in 2007. Malcolm says at the time of the apprehension she was in an abusive relationship with her ex-partner. She says she cut off contact with the man, and has not seen or heard from him in 10 years.

“I have never and would never, ever hurt my children. My children were then, and still are, my whole life,” Malcolm wrote on the page.

“I’ve been trying, since my kids got taken away, to get my life back,” Malcolm said in a phone interview Monday. One of her children has since turned 18 years old and aged out of the system, another lives with her and has never seen a foster home.

The fundraising page gives a video tour of Malcolm’s home, and the items of clothing she’s holding onto for when her two remaining kids return. In a second video, she stands in her beading class business, Bea Beads.

“I’ve been dragged along for the longest time, being told I’m going to be given my kids back here and there, nothing’s ever happened,” she said. “I’m not giving up on my kids.”

Malcolm’s Toronto-based lawyer Katherine Hensel of Hensel Barristers, said the goal is to bring the children – who are wards of the province of Manitoba – to Ontario. Malcolm will be commencing legal action against Manitoba and the agencies.

That lawsuit has not been filed yet, she said.

With government data showing nearly 50,000 kids in Canada in foster care, and 11,000 in Manitoba alone, Hensel said cases like Malcolm’s are “everyday occurrence across the country.”

“That is a reality, and it’s creating ongoing trauma, not only for individual children and families, but for entire communities and future generations,” she said.

A Manitoba government spokesperson declined to provide specific information about a child in care case.

“We can say that under the Child and Family Services Act, child safety is paramount. Children are taken into care only when there are serious safety concerns that cannot be resolved without removing the child,” reads an emailed statement.

“Apprehensions are a last resort and working with families towards safety so that children can flourish within the family network and community is the primary goal…Children can be reunified with their parents at any time while they are in care. “

The government recently announced plans to reform Manitoba’s child welfare system, with the goal of reducing the number of children in care and the amount of time those kids spend in care.

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