|An international NGO in consultative status with the United Nations
|I WANT CANADA TO
RESPOND TO THE IACHR
|PETITION TO THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA AND
THE BC MINISTRY OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT (MCFD)
REQUESTING THAT CANADA AND THE MCFD
return Loni Edmonds' six children to their mother and
stop stonewalling the request by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
to meaningfully engage in the issues raised in IACHR Petition Loni Edmonds 879-07.
Loni and her children
The BC Ministry of Children and Family Development has serially seized LIl'wat mother Loni Edmonds' six
children, and placed them in foster care. As a result, her nine-year-old son is still in diapers, her 4-year old
daughter has been taken to hospital due to signs of sexual abuse, and her 11 year-old son is having
hearing problems. Her 13 year-odl boy has been placed with a Canadian family, contrary to the prohibition
by The Genocide Convention against seizing the children of one group and giving them to another. In
addition to suffering the loss of her children, the seizure also rendered Loni homeless since 2007, and living
on $235 per month. Loni has spent the past 7 years trying to regain custody of her children. A
groundbreaking petition has been submitted on their behalf to the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights (IACHR), a UN regional human rights body, which has become engaged with the case. The case is
significant not just in seeking to save Loni's children from the widely recognized ills of foster care and return
them to their loving mother, but also to mount an international legal challenge to Canada's unilateral
imposition of its jurisdiction on native nations as it relates to children and families, and in particular on those
in British Columbia with whom it has no treaties, and who have never surrendered jurisdiction.
Why you should support this petition.
People recognize the great injustices and damages that have been done to indigenous nations in Canada,
but wrongly think that this is a thing of the past. While Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has issued
an apology for the infamous Residential School System and launched a Truth and Reconciliation process,
Canada nonetheless continues to seize native children from their families in numbers that exceed those of
the Residential School period. Native parents are severely scrutinized concerning the care of their children,
who are seized at the drop of a hat, then turned over to foster parents, who suffer no such scrutiny
concerning their treatment of the children, whom they are paid to care for. While there may be exceptions,
by and large the foster care system is known and recognized to disproportionately foster children who end
up on the streets, in jails or hospitals. Further, native families are disproportionately targeted, raising the
issue of whether the scrutiny they endure is discriminatory, and even whether there is an intended ongoing
dispossession of native generations, thereby freeing access to their lands and resources. This is
particularly applicable to BC, where most indigenous nations have not entered into treaties with Canada,
since Canada’s bottom line in negotiating them is the extinguishment of these rights.
This petition was started in an effort to return Loni Edmonds’ children to her, and to bring international legal
scrutiny to bear on whether Canada has the right to jurisdiction over native children and families, and to
dispose of native children as it sees fit.
Why this is a significant issue and a real opportunity to make a difference
This is an issue which is impossible to address in Canadian courts, which ipso facto are in conflict of interest
as to whether Canada has this right of jurisdiction. The willingness of the IACHR to engage with this case
marks an international first in the child seizure issue, and a hopeful sign that meaningful dialogue can
ensure. Pressure must be brought to bear on Canada to participate in the process, and take advantage of
the good offices offered by the IACHR to engage in good faith negotiations with indigenous nations, and
cease its assault on their families and children.
See documentary film on Loni Edmonds (LINK)