From Saturday's Globe and Mail, Friday, May. 29, 2009 11:38PM EDT
In fact, she told a Manitoba court Friday, she feared much worse harm would eventually come to her granddaughter and the girl's toddler brother considering the heavy-drinking, white-supremacist company her daughter kept and the urine-soaked conditions in which the family lived.
“I lay in bed at night and just worried sick about whether they're going to drink and drive with them, whether they are going to have some friends that were inappropriate into their house – things that could harm the children because they weren't always in a safe environment.”
Manitoba Child and Family Services is vying for permanent custody of the girl and her brother over concerns about the family's home life. Under Manitoba law, no one involved in the case can be named.
For much of the fifth day of testimony, the grandmother described in detail the couple's recent history of neglect.
During one four-month stretch, the grandmother said her daughter abandoned the 7-year-old to run off with a man she'd met through a white-supremacist website. She would eventually marry the man, but during that 4-month period, which included Christmas, the little girl was left in the care of the grandmother and other relatives.
“[Her] heart was just broken,” the grandmother said of her granddaughter. “She was just a sad, sad girl ... I couldn't believe how broken-hearted she was.”
As sad as she was separated from her mother, the little girl was in much more danger when she was reunited, the grandmother said.
During afternoon testimony, she described a series of apartments the family inhabited that became soiled with rabbit and dog feces, cat urine and kitty litter.
She detailed one rural mobile home the couple lived in as “kind of like from the Trailer Park Boys ” with a falling-down garage, holes in the floors, and a yard covered with feces from the couple's bull mastiff, which was fed only raw meat “to help its killer instincts.”
“I was really worried for the kids because here you're training the dog to be a killer and you have two small children.”
She said she often found white-supremacist literature around the couple's home. One poster claimed that “black people were carriers of AIDS,” she said. More alarmingly, during the little girl's kindergarten graduation, the father showed up wearing a red T-shirt emblazoned with “Full of 88.” Among white-supremacist movements, ‘8' refers to the eighth letter of the alphabet, and ‘88' is shorthand for Heil Hitler .
“He didn't seem to care that that was inappropriate,” the grandmother said.
She also testified that the father often bragged of fights he'd been in. During a conversation with her granddaughter, she found out that the family had been involved in a “big fight” at a bowling alley, sparked when the mother referred to someone as a “nigger.”
Finishing up her testimony, she bristled at the thought of the father being awarded custody.
“[The father] has no means of supporting them,” she said. “I don't think he can provide a clean or a safe place for them to live. I don't think he could be a good dad to them.”
The hearing was adjourned until June 4.
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre