Couple camps at B.C. legislature to protest apprehension of newborn at Victoria hospital

A Campbell River couple camped out in front of the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria to protest officials taking their newborn baby from them.

Sonja and Philip Hathaway have been in Victoria since late February, when Sonja started experiencing complications from her pregnancy.

The new parents spent two weeks in Victoria General Hospital after giving birth to their two-month-old premature baby girl on March 11. Once Sonja was healed, the couple moved into Jeneece Place — a temporary home, so to speak, while receiving medical care — while their baby, Amella, was cared for by nurses until she too was strong enough to leave.

The couple are delighted to be bringing a baby girl into the world after losing a daughter following a complicated pregnancy.

“She has her own little plan to come out early,” Sonia said. “She was so beautiful, I cried.”

However, Philip and Sonja are still working through past legal issues and have been told that Sonja must be placed in transitional housing in Vancouver without Philip. However, Sonja said she was sure she would be able to continue caring for their children.

While the situation wasn’t ideal, Philip said they agreed so Sonia could stay with her daughter.

However, the night before Sonja and Amella were due to leave, the couple said they were met by a caseworker from the Department of Children and Family Development at the hospital gate.

“We’ll pick her up [Sonja] Dinner … we went back and they said, “We’ve got your kid under arrest.” They were waiting outside the hospital,” Philip said. “They wouldn’t even let us down. “

They were told they could check back “in a day or two” to learn more, Philip said.

“We immediately packed up and came here, even though we could have stayed another night at Jeneece Place, the police even offered to give us a hotel room – we have money for a hotel room, we’re not leaving,” Phillips said. “We’re not going away. We’re not leaving until we get an answer.”

Sonja, who is part of Dene First Nation, worries that as time goes by, she is losing precious time instilling traditions and language in her babies.

“I speak to my children in my language,” she said. “The only way she learned language was as a baby.”

So far, the couple don’t know when they will be able to bring their baby home, but they will visit her alone, for as little as 30 minutes at a time.

“We’re devastated, it’s horrific what happened,” Sonia said. “It’s not right. They’re violating my rights and my daughter’s. She’s breastfeeding and they’re not doing anything to get the milk. I don’t know who has my baby right now.”

Despite the unknowns and the painful realization that they won’t be looking after Amella, the couple have made it clear they won’t be leaving Victoria – or the legislature – without their children.

“If we have to sit here for the next six months, they’re going to have to start recognizing that these things are happening,” Phillips said.

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