Canadian officials removed two young children from their home this spring after one of them showed up at school with a swastika drawn on her arm.
The case has raised questions about the government's right to take custody of children solely because of the hateful beliefs of their parents. The children's mother, a self-described white nationalist who wears a swastika necklace, was still fighting at press time for the return of her children, who were staying with relatives.
It all began when the woman's 7-year-old daughter arrived at her Winnipeg elementary school with various racist symbols and words drawn in permanent marker on her body, including a swastika, "Aryan Pride," and "14/88." The latter notation refers to a 14-word white nationalist catchphrase — "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children" — while 88 is neo-Nazi code for "Heil Hitler." After being summoned to the girl's school, caseworkers and police took her 2-year-old brother from their parent's apartment. According to court documents cited in the Winnipeg Free Press, Manitoba Child and Family Services feared that "the children may be at risk due to the parents' behavior and associates. The parents might endanger the emotional well-being of the children."
In addition, court documents stated that the girl had missed more than a month's worth of school because, she said, her parents didn't get up in time to take her. Drug and alcohol use at home was also cited as a concern.
The mother told CBC News that she regretted redrawing the swastika on her daughter's arm after a teacher removed it, though she defended her belief in "white pride."
Prominent extremists have rushed to the parents' defense, including Canadian Paul Fromm, who lost his teaching certificate because of his white supremacist activities and now heads the Canadian Association for Free Expression. The Aryan Nations, a U.S. neo-Nazi group, has also vowed to provide assistance to ensure the children are reunited with their parents.