Freedom protesters warned they may be separated from their children as 'police action' looms

The Children's Aid Society said they will work to "reunite families" in the event that parents and children are separated following "police efforts in ending the demonstrations in the downtown core."

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC

The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa (CASO) is urging demonstrators to "make necessary alternate care arrangements."

In a statement released Wednesday, the Society said that parents attending the demonstration at the city's downtown core should make "the necessary alternate care arrangements should they become unable to care for their children following potential police action."

"CASO has a mandate to protect a child when their parent becomes unavailable to exercise their custodial rights over the child and the parent has not made adequate provision for the child’s care and custody," the statement continues.

The statement says that the Society will work to "reunite families" in the scenario that parents and children are separated following "police efforts in ending the demonstrations in the downtown core."

Ottawa authorities previously said they were having a difficult time ending the trucker protests because minors were present.

"Ottawa Police Deputy Chief Steve Bell says 25 percent of trucks camped out at Ottawa protests have children living in them," said Glen McGregor of CTV.

"Bell says police are greatly concerned about children living in trucks—the risk of carbon monoxide fumes, cold, sanitation and noise levels. Not yet doing any enforcement re kids, will rely on guidance from Children's Aid Service."

"Through intelligence, we've learned that almost 25 per cent of the 418 trucks encamped in our city have children living in them — children who could be at risk during a police operation," Bell said during a Tuesday media update

Protestors have even made protests child-friendly, setting up games like Connect 4 and bouncy castles.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told parents attending the protest to return to their communities, "especially" if they had children with them.

"Everyone return to your communities now. If you're still participating in illegal blockades, you're hurting your neighbours. It's time to go home, especially if you have kids with you," the prime minister warned.

The Ottawa Police also handed out notices this morning to protestors present, that warned that they would be arrested, especially if they travelled from out of town.

"You must leave the area now. Anyone blocking streets, or assisting others in the blocking streets, are committing a criminal offence and you may be arrested. You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you will face charges. If you are arrested you may be released on bail depending on factors contained in Part XVI of the Criminal Code...

"The Federal Emergencies Act allows for the regulation or prohibition of travel to, from or within any specified area. This means that anyone coming to Ottawa for the purpose of joining the ongoing demonstration is breaking the law. The act also provides police with a number of measures including the ability to seize vehicles that are part of this demonstration," the notice reads.

According to the Emergencies Act: A person must not cause a person under the age of eighteen years to travel to or within 500 metres of an area where an assembly referred to in subsection 2(1) is taking place.

Penalties for those who bring children range from $5,000 fines to five years in prison.


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