Lev Tahor children in Chatham-Kent. Photo by Ashton Patis.

CKCS Not Acting On Quebec Orders

Chatham-Kent Children’s Services will not act on Quebec apprehension orders for all 128 Lev Tahor children.

“If the children are in need of protection in Ontario that would be up to an Ontario children’s aid society to determine,” says CKCS Executive Director Stephen Doig, who notes the organization is not legally bound to do anything but investigate complaints. “We cannot act on the Quebec court orders. We are mandated to respond to any allegations of child maltreatment, regardless if it’s in the Lev Tahor community or the general community.”

A Quebec provincial court issued the apprehension orders in November of 2013 following a two-year long investigation by youth protection authorities in the province. The ultra-orthodox Jewish sect then fled to Chatham-Kent in the middle of the night.

“We know that children, girls 14 or 15, were forced into marriage with older men who were 38, 35, even older,” says Director of Laurentians Region Youth Protection Denis Baraby. “For us, it is sexual abuse. We’re pretty sure they’re putting up a front in Chatham-Kent.”

Superior Court Justice Lynda Templeton ruled this week that 13 Lev Tahor children would not be sent to Quebec foster homes. Seven remain in foster care in the Greater Toronto Area after they were apprehended in Calgary and Trinidad and Tobago. The children at the centre of the on-going custody battle fled Ontario ahead of their initial appeal hearing. Six of the children remain in Guatemala.

“The decision on the appeal very clearly says we don’t have the authority to act on the Quebec orders,” says Doig. “We’ve been aware of those orders through the entire process.”

Some Lev Tahor children have reportedly been denied passports due to the Quebec court orders and are unable to leave the country.

The custody battle involving the seven children in foster care will return to an Ontario court next month where lawyers for Lev Tahor will fight for them to be returned to the community.