Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The CFS system put Gage in harm`s way

The last tragic note of Gage Guimond's short life has sounded.
His great-aunt, Shirley Guimond, was handed an 18-month conditional sentence for her role in the toddler's death Tuesday morning. She faces an additional three years of probation. Guimond pleaded guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life.

Last November, Guimond also pleaded guilty to assault cause bodily harm for injuries both Gage and his sister sustained from her slapping and punching them. Then, a judge said Guimond would do no further time in jail for the assault charge, giving her double credit for 68 days she'd already spent behind bars.
So, in essence, Guimond's official punishment will be shorter than Gage's life. That's some irony, isn't it?
I've said all along that Guimond shouldn't have been the only one facing judgment. She knocked the stuffing out of Gage and his sister, to be sure. She was responsible for causing the little boy's death and the battery of the girl. She was given children to care for and plain didn't.
But it's the child welfare system that merrily handed a pair of innocents to this stranger. She didn't want them. Neither did the drunken granny they first tried to saddle with the kids. Their mother was incapable of taking care of them. The only people who wanted them were their foster family, a great bunch who provided them with the first stability they had known.
In its great wisdom, the Southern CFS Authority wrenched those children from the foster home. They wanted to "reunite" them with family, kin who would allegedly provide them with appropriate cultural supports. That's why they first foisted them off on granny and then on Shirley Guimond, who has a criminal record.
When Guimond made two desperate phone calls to CFS begging for help dealing with the children she was ignored. She shouldn't have been the only one on trial.
After the boy was buried, the Southern Authority issued a report on his death. Appallingly, they called him "a warrior for change," somehow making it sound as though this wee one had volunteered to be sacrificed.
"Death is an evolutionary process of the natural world and of the universe," the preamble read. "Death is the balance to life; the two evolutionary processes keep the universe intact. The natural composition of evolution of death and life and as good as it is will have unnatural occurrences or causes; it is the way of the universe."
Death may be natural but Gage Guimond's sure wasn't. He was killed, first by the neglect of an aunt who didn't want him and next by a child welfare system that put cultural reunification ahead of a child's safety. It sets my teeth on edge that the Southern Authority has never acknowledged its role in the death.
Natasha Guimond, Gage's mother, stood outside the Law Courts yesterday morning, condemning a system that led to her son's death. She's a little late to this party, it's true, and in an ideal world would have been capable of raising her two babies. But she wasn't and didn't and that doesn't mean she's not still mourning.
"I obviously wanted Shirley locked up," she said.
"Who in their right mind puts a high chair at the top of the stairs? Why did my kids have all those bruises? Where's the workers who placed Gage with Shirley?"
Natasha Guimond gets to see her surviving child once every three months and then only under supervision. The little girl was returned to her foster family after Gage was killed. She gripes because she sees her daughter in a controlled setting "with broken toys."
She's lucky to see the girl at all. That supervision is to belatedly provide safety and precarious security to the child.
As much or as little sympathy as you have for the birth mother, she's not the one on trial. Shirley Guimond was and skated away. The child welfare system should have been put on trial, too, from the first social worker who decided to take the children from their foster home to the agency that produces lengthy reports but can't guarantee the safety of the children in its care.
Gage didn't have to die. It was the system that placed him in harm's way.

PREMIER Greg Selinger says he's "disappointed" with the conditional sentence handed to Shirley Guimond for her role in the death of her great-nephew, Gage.
The NDP government faced a barrage of Opposition questions Tuesday about the court decision and whether or not child and family service agencies are continuing to remove kids from good homes and put them into unsafe ones.
"This decision that was made by the courts is one that we're obviously disappointed in," Selinger said in the legislature. "Gage Guimond lost his life tragically. We really believe that the recommendation of the Crown to have jail time would have been appropriate in this case..."
Justice Minister Andrew Swan said the Crown's office will carefully review the 14-page decision. "If the Crown believes there is appropriate reasons for an appeal (of the sentence) then I will support them going ahead and doing that appeal," he said.
Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen said Gage Guimond's death was the result of the NDP's "rushed, careless, reckless approach to devolution" of child and family services.
McFadyen said while the government passed legislation two years ago making a child's safety the paramount concern in placement decisions, it's critical that CFS follow through on that. "We're not satisfied that has happened to date," he said.

I agree that aboriginal children should be placed in aboriginal homes, in order to maintain traditions and culture, but those homes and potential parents must be deemed fit to care for the child and they must be willing. The home needs to offer love and understanding. I believe that traditional aboriginal teachings need to be maintained throughout the generations. But a child also needs love, care, nurture and growth. Children should not be placed in homes which are dysfunctional and unable to care for them. There has to be more culturally appropriate, functional, happy, loving, and safe aboriginal foster families and homes.
Jail for this woman would not have been appropriate. I believe only the most dangerous individuals who pose a risk to society should be imprisoned. Jail should be a last resort, not over-relied upon. Jail would have negatively impacted this woman, as she has suffered from abuse herself in the past. A conditional sentence is completely appropriate. She made a mistake which could happen to anybody. 

Yes that is true but sorry it shouldn't be CFS. CFS is not in the business of taking children away from their birth Moms for the fun of it. There was a reason that these kids was taken away from their birth Mother. I really want to know what she was doing that cause CFS to investigate her in the 1st place.

You see her on the news saying how it is everyone's fault that her son has died. It is a horrible thing that happened to Gage who didn't get much of a chance to experience the joys of life, but I think Natasha needs to look into the mirror and in herself. See what she could have done differently so she wouldn't have been in a position to have CFS even investigating her in the 1st place.

This is something that every person who had a child taken away or is being investigated by CFS needs to do. Raise your kids the way they should be raised so CFS doesn't have to be concerned.

Wouldn't it be great that these parents actually took the proper responsibilities and raised their children, so no one would need to be having concerns for the child’s well being because the children are being well taken care of by them.

It would be great if this happened and we heard a news conference saying that CFS will now be closed as we are no longer needed!

In the end it is the ones who are having the kids who should be ultimately responsible for them, not CFS and not foster famlies!!

Yes the mother is partly to blame definitely. However, it is a lot easier to change CFS regulations then it is to change a human being or a large group of human beings. It would be fantastic if all parents were responsible, but even in the best of communities that's never going to happen. This child is dead because CFS put him back with other family members. The mother is not as much to blame because had he been kept with his foster family he would be alive and well. So yes we should be trying to reduce the need for children to be taken away, but most important of all is that when these children need to be taken away from the situation, they need to have a loving home to go to, and they need to stay there. That will be the fastest and most effective way to stop this from happening over and over.

1 comment:

  1. very good blog, congratulations
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