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Shari Narine Sweetgrass – Alberta government accused of kidnapping thousands of children

A class action law suit, that claims from 1985 to 2009 the province took thousands of children and then illegally retained them, is a step away from certification.

“You can’t take somebody’s child without following the law, whether you’re a neighbour, a stranger or the government,” said lawyer Robert Lee, whose firm began the class action. “The only way (Alberta) child welfare can take a child away from the parent is if they follow the law and if they take a child from a parent without following the law, to me, that’s kidnapping.”

At the core of the matter is the claim that the government did not follow its own legislation after apprehending children. From 1985-2004, the Child Welfare Act required social workers to prepare and file service plans in courtwithin 30 days of apprehending a child. In 2004, theChild Welfare Act was replaced by the Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act, which did away with the requirement of filing service plans in court, instead requiring social workers to develop concurrent planning within 42 days of apprehending a child. Concurrent planning meant establishing a service plan to reunite child with family, or, failing that, a service plan to find alternate care for the child. In 2008, theChild Youth and Family Enhancement Act was amended removing the obligation to prepare concurrent plans. The Child Welfare Service Plan Class Action claims that the government failed to follow its own legislation by allowing temporary guardianship orders, under which the children were initially claimed, to expire but still holding on to the children without court orders.

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