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Sunday, August 1, 2010

A father’s fight

18 years ago, I went for the custody of my daughter, she was grabbed by the c.a.s. in Ottawa at birth because she was born addicted to hard drugs. I remember that day as if it was yesterday; the worker went as far as to call the police in order to keep me in a separate room when they took my daughter. I kept on telling them, "what's going on, why are you doing this?" The cops told me I would have to talk to the worker, so I waited patiently and then went back to the hospital room, where the workers and the mother where. I asked again, why are you taking her away? That is when they told me for the first time, that the baby was born addicted to hard drugs, namely cocaine. I was so mad, where I believed I had successfully prevented the mother from doing cocaine, I realized I had failed. Three weeks later, I told the mom that I was leaving and I could not live with her anymore. I figured by now, for the moment, the child was safe in the hands of the c.a.s. I could not off been more wrong.
In those three weeks, I had heard that the c.a.s. was telling the mother she had to get rid of me, that I was probably the one giving her drugs and since I was native, I was probably an alcoholic. Strangely enough, I do not drink, and I tried my greatest to get her off drugs.

During the pregnancy, the mom would disappear for weeks, I would look for her, sometimes I would find her and bring her home. By now the relationship was a nightmare, I was so angry at the idea of someone doing drugs while pregnant and some people selling her drugs. Once, some friends and I found one that was giving her cocaine while 6 months pregnant, we went to this dogs place and explained to him what he was doing was wrong, in not so many words. It seem to have worked, the word got out that it was not a good idea to sell this pregnant woman some drugs. I remember her complaining she could not get any because of the fear of repercussions. One night she held a knife on her stomach threatening to kill the child if I did not get her some drugs. Of course I did not, but that night was also a nightmare.
Another night she was so strung out, that she wanted to go out and get some, I prevented her from going out, and she took a heavy glass ashtray and struck me on my ribs. Two weeks later, I collapse and they had to take me to the hospital at the civic in Ottawa. I had two broken ribs and a ruptured spleen. For two weeks I endured the pain so I could see my child born, if I would of went to the hospital she would have gone to do drugs. It was so bad I ended up in i.c.u. for a couple of days. The doctor asked me how I could have lasted this long with such pain, and I told him why. While I was at the hospital, the mom told me she was not doing drugs. A month later, I told the doctor I was going home, and he let me go. She was still doing drugs, up until the birth. And the child was born on drugs. I had tried so hard, and given up so much but I had failed. I remember a time I was looking at a picture of my two other kids, from a previous marriage and she got violent because of it.
So , once the child was in the hands of the c.a.s. in Ottawa, I had an offer to go to Canmore Alberta, a friend needed a partner for his new business in drywall, figuring the child would be safe for now, and that the workers at c.a.s. where blaming me for everything, because I was native, I decided to go. But I did not abandoned anyone, especially the child. For nine months, I worked hard, made money and stayed in touch with c.a.s. in Ottawa, through child services in Alberta, I sent money, and always told them if they needed more to ask.
One day, coming back from work, got a message from child services, and they told me that my daughter had been taken from the mother twice in a period of 9 months, and that Ottawa was going to send papers for me to sign for crown warship. Of course I refused and told them I was coming back to raise her, and give her a home. So I sold my truck, and my tools at bargain price may I add, and came back to Ottawa.
Once here got a lawyer, and a very supportive one, I could not of done it without him, and went for custody. That is where, in my opinion, I not only battled a view that men had no reason to raise children especially little girls but racism came into effect.
I did not want to get a place in Ottawa, because the mom lived there and I did not want to deal with her, so I got a place in Perth Ontario. I arrived there with a small suitcase of clothes and 700 dollars.
I gave some to the lawyer to begin the proceedings and rented a small one bedroom apartment. Went to churches, friends, and any organizations that would help me furnished the place. Got baby all I needed, even baby furniture and began the supervised visits. I would hitchhike from Perth to Ottawa twice a week in the winter, at 5 am for visits, never missed one, even when they would call me for her doctor's appointments. One time they called and said she had an appointment at 9 am, but I did not have to come, if I would not of went they would of brought it up in court that I did not care. So I hitched to Ottawa, on a very cold morning, or -30 c. and got there on time. There cruelty of this particular event is that they did not even let me say hello to her once in the office; I saw her pass by, and leave. But that was ok, they would not let them get to me, I thought to myself.
The visits with my daughter went fine, it was a good day, every time I saw her, but the attitude of the workers made things very hard. Here are a few example of what a native man goes through with the system. On one visit, the worker came to me and said, " I know it's a fight between me and you to see who wins", I said " I beg your pardon, I did not come back from Alberta, from a secure job, to be on welfare, just to have a battle of will with you, this is my daughter and I have responsibilities". On another visit, the same worker says," what would a man want with a little girl", that phrase really upset me, it could have meanings that I would not repeat, but I kept my cool, "this is my daughter, you might have a hard time accepting this but I want to raise her, and give her a home, with her dad".
And again, different visit, she was standing with other workers, and said out loud while I was walking with my child, "look, Beauty and the beast".
Now here come the reality of what was going on, my brother gave me a ride to c.a.s. on time, and they told him he could not come to the room while I was visiting, he was not approved. So he waited in the visitors room, the visit went fine, or so I thought. On the way home, he looked at me and said, " you know, I don't think these people are not going to give you your daughter, they are playing with you". Why do you say that I asked, " well, when I was in the visiting room, one of them came to me, and said; Fucking Indians, the only thing they ever do is collect welfare, get drunk, and cause trouble". Of course I complained to the director, and I believe the person was either fired or put somewhere else, I never saw him again. But from that day on, I believed that if one had that belief in his mind and he was brave enough to say this to a stranger, then it must have been a belief that more of them held. This person did not see me come in with my brother, and he does not look like me, it never crossed his mind that this person sitting in the visitors room could be with me. Nonetheless, from this day on, I was very careful what I said, who I talked to, trusted no one and did everything they asked of me. At one popint they even asked me if I had a good time one week end, mentioned beer and alcohol. I took it as a threat and went to my doctor and for the rest of the custody fight, got a urine and blood test done every two weeks, which I still have to this day.
Anyway this went on for 6 months, the abuse and insult never ended, they were trying their best to set me off, so they could say in court, that I was violent and could not be trusted as a parent.
Finally, came the big week, the final decision by the court for custody. Strangely enough, a friend at the rez told me to say, since she was native, she could not be adopted outside her nation and that native issue where federal. I mentioned this to the worker and said I might ask the federal courts to look into it. She got extremely defensive and said any c.a.s. problems where provincial, and I answered, "We will see". I did not have long to wait, two days before the court date, they brought my daughter to my place in Perth, and said, "If you want her that bad, here", and dropped her off with one small bag of clothes.
From here, all was good, I was a proud father, I love and cherished the days when me and my daughter went for walks, I would push her in the carriage, she had a habit of always carrying a bottle sprayer with water and she would spray people as they passed by. She also had a habit of picking out a single branch from the ground and gives it to me; I still have all of them on my wall. As she got older she would always brushed my hair, and always called me "Dadns". At school, her essays where always about, my dad, my hero, kissed her on the forehead every day before school, walked her there, and always had a reward, kinder surprise, every time I picked her up. One time she had her heart set on a Pokémon pencil eraser, the class was offering to the student who did the best work for the week, I figured the odds of her wining where 30 to 1, so I went all over town to find that specific Pokémon, just in case she did not win it. Well she did not, and she came home heartbroken, she said, "Dad, I worked so hard for it and I did not win it", with big tears in her eyes. So, I gave her the typical parental wisdom, told her "you know honey, in life, there will be some disappointments," so on so on. As she sat on the cough, with the face that would make any father break down, I told her to look for her treat on the table in the little bag, she walked over and opened it and with a smile and a tear, she ran over to me and said, "you are the greatest dad in the world", this was the moment that I will never give up, it was a time that is to be remembered and cherished. It made this old broken down warrior, the proudest man in the world.
Also, I always wanted to make sure I would never make mistakes, so I went to parental courses, had women visit me at home, from such organizations as connection and family services, and we stayed friends for 17 years. (This is important because these same people did something that caught me off guard, 17 years later.) It was the happiest time in my life.

Now let's move about 4 years, I found one of my daughters half sisters, she was in a foster home with the same c.a.s.. I thought it would be a great idea to unite them. By now the mother of these girls had four other kids, all taken from her. I thought I was doing the right thing, but what happened to me during the custody battles for my daughter, repeated itself. To make a long story short, I called c.a.s. in Ottawa, asked them if it was possible to unite them, to my surprise they said yes, and eventually, the nightmare began all over again. If they did not want to, why not just say no. Anyway, I had to deal with insecure foster parents, and one day, close to xmass, we had bought presents for the sister, seven all together, wrapped them up, and put them under the tree. Told the foster mother they could come anytime to unwrap them and we could do it with both sisters at the same time, they refused.
Got a call, after xmass from the worker at c.a.s., here is what really is disgusting, she told me, "We are wondering what kind of man buy presents for little girls". I only said, "Excuse me, they are sisters, I just thought it would be nice to see them together for the first time at xmas." Eventually, It caused so much trouble, that I realized, they were obligated to try to put the sisters together, but did not want to and in order to put an end to it, was to attack me again. So, I had to let go, for the sake of my daughter.

Now move to the present,
I am going to put it simply, I never hid the fact I was native, that I was traditional, family first, don't drink, don't do drugs and always help others in need. It is my opinion that the system looked at me as a potentially violent drunken Indian, that all of us are tagged that way, by those running the social programs, I have no doubt of this, and no one will ever convince me otherwise. Too many time, the words "drunken Indian" came up, it is entrenched in the system and the population. The other factor added was that since these social programs are run by strong feminist, the very idea that a man, raising a little girl to them is not acceptable. They did everything possible to destroy my relationship with my daughter, even, brainwashing, lying, and abuse of power, how did they get away with it, simple, they answer to no one.
The mother, who has never been involved and has, to my knowledge abused six kids, including mine, doing drugs while pregnant, made a sudden comeback. On drugs again, had a fight with her brother and sister, they kicked her out of their place in Ottawa, shows up at my place begging for me to help her. So I did, again. She told me she was pregnant and on drugs. The only reason I did help is because my daughter wanted her mom around so bad, I couldn't say no. She was sick and in bed for 2 weeks, probably because of the drugs. Once she got better, she went to a local shelter in Carleton place and told them she needed emergency help because she was afraid for her life. Comes back to my house with five women, so she could pick up her clothes. I knew some of the women and they explained to me after what she had said, that her boyfriend was abusive. What the problem was in this case, was that I slept on the cough and I gave her my bedroom, I was not her boyfriend and I never made advances or tried anything with her. But in this case it did not matter to the shelter, she just had to say she was abused and she automatically gets emergency help, welfare, furniture, housing, so on, it did not matter to them that it was a lie, after all, I am a native man and I must be violent in their eyes. So be it I thought, at least she was gone from my house.
Now she walks around pretending to be the perfect mother, she started by sending emails to my daughter, explaining how she would have more freedoms, she could stay out all hours of the night and her father's house rules where bad. Of course my daughter been full of teenage hormone started to point out how thing where to hard at home. Some women, a friend of the mother came here to pick up my daughter; she had offered her a room at her place, without my knowledge. Been 16 at the time I could not stop it. Even the local police were involved. We are here to pick up all her clothes, they kept on screaming, I explained that she was just been manipulated by these two women and it did not matter. I stood my ground and told them that even if she was of age to leave, this is her home and there was no reason for this, I gave her two weeks of clothes and told her the door would be open when she decided to come home. Couple of days later this woman I did not even know, come to my house and tells me to my face, "you're a drunken white hating Indian", where that came from, I have no idea, but for sure, in my mind, it is what everyone thinks when the face a native person. She screamed at me, called me all kinds of names, stuck her nose where it did not belong, and there is nothing I could do.
So my daughter goes to the mother eventually, guess it did not work at this woman's house. She was there for only two weeks until she came back home. The mother called gst, child tax credit and odsp, and told them she was living with her for the past three months. It caused me so many problems with the government, they tried to collect thousands from me, I explain she was at home and was only at her mom's for two weeks, and they told me it did not matter, that since she was the mother she could do that and that it was my responsibility to prove it. I asked them why didn't they checked their computer, they would of found out she was with me for 16 years and I might be telling the truth? No avail, I had to pay the money, and in my opinion, I did not need the harassment.
Now comes the fun part, by now, these woman had put so many ideas in my daughters head, things where even worse. Name calling, threats, things that broke my heart at times, after 2 months, again my daughter leaves home. The same woman who called me a drunken Indian, drives her to the shelter in Carleton place. The same shelter which the mother had went to. While there, my daughter now 17, started to drink, miss classes. I sent an email to the director, some erin todd lee, asking her to look into this, told her my daughter was born addicted to hard drugs, so that put her in danger of becoming an alcoholic or drug addict, faster than any other teenager. I explained, when I got custody, the doctors and psychologists explain this to me, and her moods would be difficult to deal with later in life.
When she was missing classes, and when she eventually was expelled, I sent emails to this person, begging her to fix the problems. My daughter was an honour student, worked, never missed classes, on her way to college, an accomplished artist, even had a model photographer from Montreal come over to interview her and they where destroying her future. I was always polite and diplomatic, never was insulting of mad in any of the emails. What did she do? She sent her friend from the OPP to my house saying I was harassing her. Fortunately I had all the emails, asked this cop, where am I doing wrong, all my emails are about legal and her health. In my opinion, since the female cop was the liaison to the shelter, this director, knew she might be in trouble so she tried to scare me away.
That's not the only time I had a strange run in with the local cops, one time, one of them called me, told me to put my affairs in order, the RCMP where coming to get me for a fine dating back to 1993, that I should show up at the police station. So I called two RCMP detachments, Kingston and Ottawa, both told me I was not that important to them. Even called the courthouse in Ottawa, they told me they had lost the file. So, when I called this cop back, told him I had contacted the RCMP, he simply said this other cop at the RCMP detachment told him he was coming to get me. He gave me his name and I called that cop, he was on "medical leave", and wouldn't be back for two weeks, so how the heck could he be coming to get me? Never heard anything more about this issue after this. So the call was to scare me?? Warn me? What?
So I called, mp's, mpp's, city counsellors, senators, media, no one helped. I asked, how can the system take my daughter, who was an honour student, worked, was on her way to college, had her future assured, and turn her into a welfare recipient, who skipped classes, expelled, did not graduate, and no longer wants to go to college? No one cared. All the work I did, the attention, the love, the dedication, was gone, because of feminist controlled social programs who think all native me are drunken Indians?
I even called the director of welfare in Lanark County, some mpp told me I had the right to ask for an investigation. Went to see her, put all kinds of proof of what they were doing in front of her, my daughters school records, her been an honour student last year but a failure this year under their watch. This director, nancy green, never called me again, I called back to asked how the investigation was going, no call back, nothing.
Some conservative mpp sent a letter to the minister of community and social services asking for an investigation to why this girl was on welfare when she has a good home, but that was weeks ago. I have received no news of that.
I knew many people in the social system, family services, connections, which is a single parent support group, so on. None helped, all use to say I was a great father, but once it was time for them to show up, they disappeared. I even had someone I knew for 17 years, who knew how abusive the mother was to her kids; say to my face that she was a sweetheart.

So you see, in 18 years, I had to put up with racist remarks. I raised my daughter all by myself, to be responsible, with love and dedication, thought her the importance of school, college, work, family, and in a few months, they turned her into a welfare recipient, who quit her job, in housing, missed classes, expelled from school, no longer can go to college. It did not matter to them she was born on hard drug, a crack baby I believe they call it, that there might be emotional problems, her father was a native man, and therefore must be violent.

My question is this, why should we even bother if this is the end game, why should fathers even get involve if we are treated like this, even those of us who do the right thing are attacked, if not because one is native, then it's because where men, fathers?

As I sit here alone, my daughter gone, no idea what she is doing, I still am fighting behind the curtain to make sure she at least gets grade 12. If she is on welfare she has to go to school, so I push this to these people, hopefully it will work, but there is a point where one gets tired and worn out.

I keep on trying, there must be someone out there, a lawyer, anyone who thinks this is wrong...


Cherniak_WTF said...

Wow. A really heartbreaking story...

Sadly, there is a prejudice against men when it comes to being a single parent. Add that you are native and I understand the frustration you might be feeling.

The Native Canadian said...

Thanks for the good words and yes, the prejudice is clear, the problem is, its not me, I dont matter, its what they have done to my daughter.