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First Nations woman who took to social media to get her kids back from CFS now suing agencies, governments – CBC.ca

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A First Nations woman who waged a social media campaign in 2017 in a bid to regain custody of her children is now suing the Manitoba child and family services agencies involved in the case.

Three of the woman’s children were apprehended by CFS in 2007 after an instance of abuse by their father, who was her partner at the time, the lawsuit says. The man later pleaded guilty to assaulting one of the boys.

The woman separated from her partner and then spent more than a decade trying to get custody of her boys. In 2015, the oldest of the three left the home where he was placed and travelled by bus to another community to live with his mother, the lawsuit says.

The woman found that “her efforts to regain care and custody of her children were obstructed by a lengthy pattern of omissions, inaction, and discriminatory and bad faith behaviour by the defendants,” the court document says.

“It took 11 years for (the plaintiff) to be reunited with all three of her sons.”

Toronto lawyer Katherine Hensel is representing the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed this month against CFS agencies, governments and other individuals. (Supplied/Hensel Barristers )

Her statement of claim filed in Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench June 4 seeks $5 million in general damages, plus $1 million in punitive damages and another $1 million in aggravated damages. The claim also seeks the same damages for two of her children.

Claim illustrates ‘casual indifference’ to Indigenous suffering: lawyer

“Nowhere is systemic racism and discrimination more apparent in the justice system … than in child welfare, when it comes to Indigenous children and families,” the plaintiff’s lawyer, Katherine Hensel, told CBC News.

She said her client believes what happened to the family is “an everyday occurrence” that is representative of a “casual indifference” to the suffering Indigenous children and families endure in the child welfare system.

“So part of the objective in bringing this claim is to bring an end to that indifference,” Hensel said. 

Claim says woman stigmatized as ‘unfit’

The lawsuit alleges “the obstruction, intransigence, discrimination, and bad faith” of the defendants caused the plaintiff’s children to lose their family and each other for most of their childhood, and “to suffer extreme emotional, physical and psychological harm.” 

It says the mother was never alleged to have engaged in abusive behaviour toward any of her children, and did not suffer from any mental health disorders nor substance abuse. Yet the CFS agencies caused the stigmatization of her as “unfit”, the claim says.

The woman is a member of a First Nation in Manitoba and currently lives with all of her children at a First Nation in Ontario, the claim says.

The agencies named as defendants in the lawsuit include the All Nations Coordinated Response Network (ANCR), Winnipeg Child and Family Services, West Region Child and Family Services and the CFS authority Southern First Nations Network of Care. 

Woman posted about struggle on social media

After the woman made social media posts in 2017 about her decade-long struggle to regain custody of her children, she was threatened with potential legal action by CFS for publicly identifying her children. 

It’s an offence under Manitoba’s CFS Act to publicly identify children who are involved in proceedings under the Act.

The social media campaign wasn’t the first time the woman had taken action publicly about her problems with the child welfare system. 

Frustrated with refusals by West Region CFS to help with reunification of her family, in 2009 the plaintiff embarked on a 1,681 kilometre walk from Winnipeg to Ottawa, the claim says.

The goal was to draw attention to the experience she and her sons were having with West Region CFS, as well as “the general damaging and negative experiences of Indigenous parents and children within the child protection system.”

Lawsuit alleges abuse in foster homes

The lawsuit also names the governments of Manitoba and Canada as defendants, as well as two foster parents and two other individuals allegedly known by CFS agencies as posing a risk to children.

Two of the boys were sexually and physically abused while living in foster homes, the lawsuit alleges.

It says the boys were not placed in Indigenous foster homes during the decade they spent in CFS care, other than a period of less than a year for one of the boys. 

They were “denied access to their culture, language, history, community, extended family, and to each other and their brother,” during their 10 years in care.

“Not only has the breakup of the family unit inflicted significant mental suffering on the plaintiffs,” the claim says, but the two boys “suffered abuse within Manitoba’s foster care system and were disconnected from their Anishinaabe identities, heritage, culture, language, and community, as well as their extended family.” 

The repercussions of that will be felt by the children and their mother throughout their lives, the claim says.

Plaintiff seeks to prevent similar experiences

While the monetary damages sought in the lawsuit can never adequately compensate for what happened, the court document says, the plaintiff seeks remedies to prevent similar conduct from happening again by those with responsibility for the care and protection of Indigenous children and families.

The lawsuit seeks a declaration that the plaintiff’s right to life, liberty and security of the person under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was breached. 

It also seeks a declaration that her inherent and treaty rights under the Constitution Act 1982, as well as those of the children, were also violated.

The allegations have not been tested in court and the defendants have not yet filed statements of defence. CBC News is not naming the plaintiff in order to protect the identity of the children.

A spokesperson for the Manitoba government said it would not be appropriate to comment at this time because the case is currently before the courts. 

The West Region CFS agency and the Southern First Nations Network of Care also declined to comment. CBC News has not had a response yet from Winnipeg CFS, ANCR, or the federal government. 

Got a tip for the CBC Manitoba I-Team? Email iteam@cbc.ca or call the confidential tip line at 204-788-3744.

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The Worst Social Media App For Sleep Is TikTok – Refinery29

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Even within the activities she says are acceptable to do before bed, there’s a spectrum. Schneeberg says you can imagine rating activities on a scale of one to 10, with one being super boring and 10 being super engaging. “You don’t want to be watching or reading a 10. That might be a thriller, for example, or a book your favourite author just published, or a brand-new, binge-able show,” she says. “Try to choose something that’s a five: not so boring that you don’t care, but just interesting enough that drowsiness can sneak up on you and you aren’t lying there worrying about whether you’ll be able to fall asleep. You want distraction — but only at a certain level.”

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Trump allies take aim at his global media chief for firings – 570 News

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WASHINGTON — Seven U.S. senators, including two strong allies of President Donald Trump, harshly criticized Trump’s new chief of U.S.-funded global media on Wednesday for firing the heads of several international broadcasters without consulting Congress. They expressed concern that the independent agency may become politicized.

Led by Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the group questioned the leadership of Michael Pack, Trump’s pick to head the Agency for Global Media, which runs the flagship U.S. broadcaster Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks and the Cuba-focused Radio/TV Marti.

Democrats have been outspoken in their concerns that Pack, a conservative filmmaker and associate of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, has been brought on board to turn VOA and the other outlets into a pro-Trump propaganda machine with little regard for the independence granted them by their founding charter. Wednesday’s letter was notable in that it was signed by the two powerful Trump allies who are particularly close to the president.

In a scathing letter to Pack, the senators complained he had given lawmakers no reason for the purge of qualified leaders at RFE/RL, RFA, MBN and the Open Technology Fund, a non-broadcast arm of the agency that works to provide secure internet access to people around the world. The director and deputy director of VOA resigned just days before the firings, which also included the dismissal of each of their governing boards.

“The termination of qualified expert staff and network heads for no specific reason as well as the removal of their boards raised questions about the preservation of these entities and their ability to implement their statutory missions now and in the future,” they wrote. “These actions, which came without any consultation with Congress, let alone notification, raise serious questions about the future of USAGM under your leadership.”

Pack was bitterly opposed by Democrats but was confirmed to his position last month on a party line 53-38 vote in the Senate. Rubio, Graham and the other two Republicans who signed the letter, Jerry Moran of Kansas and Susan Collins of Maine, all voted for his confirmation. Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who opposed Pack’s confirmation, also signed.

Pack has defended the moves as necessary to reform the agency, but Democrats and an increasing number of Republicans have taken issue with actions they fear could subvert its non-partisan mission. Conservatives have in particular assailed the firings of former Rubio staffer Jamie Fly as head of RFE/RL and former U.S. diplomat Alberto Fernandez as head of MBN.

A request for comment about the letter was not immediately acknowledged by Pack’s office. But, in a statement issued after the initial criticism of the firings, he said: “Every action I carried out was — and every action I will carry out will be — geared toward rebuilding the USAGM’s reputation, boosting morale, and improving content.”

Regardless of any needed reforms. the senators said it is critical for AGM’s outlets to hold true to their charter of independence and provide global audiences with unbiased and credible news and other programming. This, they said, is particularly important as the U.S. confronts increasing misinformation and disinformation campaigns from Russia, China and Iran.

“We urge you to respect the unique independence that enable USAGM’s outlets and grantees to help cultivate a free and open world,” the wrote. “Given the bipartisan and bicameral concern with recent events, we intend to do a thorough review of USAGM’s funding to ensure that United States international broadcasting is not politicized and that the agency is able to fully and effectively carry out its core mission.”

Matthew Lee, The Associated Press

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Turkey: Erdogan vows social media controls over insults to family – Al Jazeera English

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Turkey’s president has vowed to tighten government control over social media following alleged insults directed at his daughter and son-in-law when they announced the birth of their fourth child on Twitter.

Addressing his party’s provincial leaders via a conference call on Wednesday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened new legislation by the year’s end to stringently regulate “immoral” social media.

“Do you understand why we are against social media such as YouTube, Twitter and Netflix? To eradicate such immorality,” Erdogan told members of his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

He said his government is determined to introduce legislation that would force social media companies to establish a legal presence in Turkey.

The requirement would mean they could be held financially accountable and forced to respond to Turkish court decisions.

‘Abusing a newborn’

Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who is married to Erdogan’s daughter Esra, on Tuesday announced the birth of their fourth child, Hamza Salih, on Twitter.

The announcement was followed by insulting messages questioning the paternity.

Erdogan said investigations were under way against those who “attacked” his family by “abusing a newborn”.

“We will keep chasing these cowards who attack a family and the values they believe represented by them through a baby,” Erdogan said.

The Turkish leader blamed global social media companies with headquarters in Western nations for “turning a blind eye” to violations in Turkey.

“We experienced similar attacks in the past. The lack of monitoring on these platforms have a role in the rise of this sort of immoral behaviour,” he said.

“These platforms do not suit this country. We want these platforms to be banned, taken under control.”

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said a number of social media users had been detained overnight for allegedly posting insulting tweets.

Many Turks rallied in support of the president’s family and condemned the insults, including opposition politicians.

History of bans

Ankara regularly clamps down on dissent, most recently on posts about its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is accused of targeting opposition politicians, journalists, academics and lawyers for expressing their opinions online.

Erdogan last week faced a flood of “dislikes” on YouTube while addressing youth before their exams. When the live chat was quickly closed to comments, “No Votes” started trending on Twitter.

Turkish authorities have previously imposed temporary blocks on Twitter and other social media during crises, for example, following an air attack in Syria’s Idlib that killed dozens of Turkish soldiers in February this year.

Although Erdogan’s comments came days after the reported insults on social media, his government has long been considering amendments that would enable it to keep social media giants such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in check by forcing them to remove content or risk facing heavy fines and restricted access to their platforms.

Critics fear the move is aimed at further limiting the Turkish public’s ability to access independent news outlets in an environment dominated by pro-government media.

Turkey has blocked access to thousands of websites. In January, the government lifted a more than two-year ban on Wikipedia after Turkey’s top court ruled the block was unconstitutional.

Turkey had halted access to the online encyclopedia after it refused to remove content the government deemed to be offensive.

In December 2015, Turkey’s communications regulator issued an unprecedented fine on Twitter for allowing the publication of content deemed to justify terror.

Erdogan’s aversion to social media platforms dates back to huge anti-government protests in 2013, which were often mobilised by Twitter and Facebook posts.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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