An Indigenous mother has been granted custody of her six year old son. She voluntarily placed him with her great aunt when he was a few days old due to her addictions and incapacity to care for him. The aunt will continue to have specified access to the child, as she has bonded with him. The mother has worked hard over the last three years to remain sober and is now in a good position to care for her son along with his two siblings.
CD, has been the primary care giver of a six year old child and her home has been his primary residence since he was only a few days old. He was placed with CD by his mother, TA, voluntarily, as she was struggling with addictions and knew she could not care for him. The mother is currently caring for two of her other children now that her addictions have been behind her now for almost three years. During this time that she has remained sober, TA went on to get two degrees from First Nations University in Regina and is confident she is capable to have her six year old son now stay with her.
CD, who is TA’s great aunt, has been cooperative with access to the mother, but feels that the boy should continue to live with her as it would be in his best interests. He is very sensitive to disruptions and requires special care and structured routine. CD has informed the Court that it is common both within their family and in First Nation circles to care for mothers who are struggling with raising their children.
TA acknowledges her previous addictions difficulties that included use of crystal meth and alcohol. However, this was due to unresolved trauma. She has worked very hard and has made long term, meaningful recovery and is prepared to become sole parent of her son. TA has put forth the effort to minimize conflict with her aunt over this custody issue, but remains adamant she can now provide for him with her place being primary residence.
The Court finds that a transition, if properly planned and executed will, in the short, medium and long run, to be in the best interests of TA’s son. The connection a child has to his biological parents is of great significance. It is not in his interests to have only a half time relationship with his mother. He will benefit most from living primarily with his mother and maintaining a relationship with his loving auntie. He needs access to both his Catholic roots and his Aboriginal culture. This is who he is at present and who he needs to continue to be until he makes choices himself as to where that leads. A transition period is important and counselling is recommended for the aunt and mother to repair the conflict this custody battle has inflicted on their relationship.