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Dorian Baxter

The Most Reverend Dorian A. Baxter, B.A., O.T.C., M.Div.

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Family and Children’s Services target of protest

 

WATERLOO REGION — A small group of protesters picketing Family and Children’s Service of Waterloo Region in the bitter winds of Monday morning were demanding public accountability from an agency they believe destroys families. And they had a most unusual advocate.

 

The Newmarket man who calls himself the Most Reverend Dorian A. Baxter, Lord Archbishop of Yorke, leads a fringe independent Anglican group called Christ the King Graceland. He is also an Elvis impersonator.

While sporting a black Elvis wig and Elvis glasses, he recalled a personal experience with Family and Children Services in Durham Region, in the mid 1990s, when he tried to regain custody of his two daughters after they were taken from the home by their mother. His ex-wife had accused him of sexually abusing the girls and he said the agency never gave him a chance to prove his innocence.

After months in court, Baxter he got full custody and in court he won a financial settlement from Family and Children’s Services. Baxter has since launched a campaign against the agency to protect other families from enduring the same sort of treatment. He also helped found canadacourtwatch.com and was in town to support the protestors.

“We need to have justice, transparency and accountability from every Children’s Aid Society across Canada,” said Baxter who, along with the other protestors, carried placards on the sidewalk along Ardelt Road, in front of the Family and Children’s Services office. The group was also calling for the passing of 2008 Bill 93 which Baxter explained would allow the Ontario Ombudsman’s office to investigate Children’s Aid Societies.

Catherine Frei organized the rally for Family Day, a day she said visitors centres where parents have supervised visits with their children were closed for the provincial holiday. Frei was one of those parents, having had her three year old son seized and put into foster care “440 days ago.” She has since had a battle with the society to have her son returned and feels the system is heavily weighted against parents.

“It’s the complete annihilation of the human spirit,” said Frei, a well-spoken journalism student at Conestoga College. “They make you feel like you’re the unsavouries of society.” She also said, there is no recourse for parents with complaints and that even review boards where complaints against the society are suppose to be heard before going to court, is not impartial. Her only recourse now is to hire a child advocate lawyer who will work on her son’s behalf.

Alison Scott is the newly appointed executive director of the society and after only two weeks into the job, she responded to the protestors’ accusations by noting “there are several mechanisms in place” where parents can take their complaints, right up to the court level. Her agency’s mandate is to keep children safe, “we have an obligation to assess risk,” she said adding that parents sometimes view the Society’s work with suspicion.

“We know that families can be anxious and apprehensive when we get involved,” she said. “It’s pretty intrusive.”

Linda Plourde was one of the protestors, having experience with the Catholic Childrens Aid Society when her grandchild was seized from her daughter. Ploude subsequently self-published a book Protecting Canadian Children and in it she accuses the society of seizing children and putting their lives at risk in foster homes, where she said death occurs regularly.

Scott explained the statistics are very misleading, that in fact most of the 90 children who reported to have died in 2007 were medically fragile and died of natural causes while others were cases of suicide or accident. “None were preventable,” she said. Some of the deaths were, by law, reported to Children’s Aid by the hospitals though the agency did not have any involvement with the family or the child.

Having Children’s Aid involved “instills more fear in fami. ies,” admitted Scott. “It’s simply not true.”

 

By Valerie Hill Record Staff

 

Source: TheRecord.com (February 16, 2010)


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