Victim of a Scam

I fell prey to a scam. However, if it wasn’t for my wise father, It could have been worse for me. There are a lot of feelings that come from being scammed. The feeling of being stripped as another trusted person gets into one’s space and then strips your belongings and leaves you standing there with a cup of empty coffee in your hand with no pot to refill it.

It all started one morning when I received a text message from the Chief Operating Officer from one of the companies I sent my resume too. He texted me saying that I have been chosen as one of the top applicants.

I have had many resumes that I sent out to a lot of companies that I had checked out thoroughly for gaining steadier employment. These jobs seemed reputable. But let me tell you, as reputable as they are, keep alert because scammers are lurking for their next victim and targeting people looking for work.

My text message, ‘dinged,’ from my cell phone at 8:00 AM. It was from the job I was hoping to get because it was a remote job I could do at home. I had all the credentials, reviewed the company, and looked up the individuals who texted me through LinkedIn and the ‘said’ company off their website. I should have picked up on the ‘possible warning alert’ when I had to go through the mobile app called telegraph to discuss the job by the human resources interviewee on my phone. However, I didn’t grind my coffee beans yet and was very excited over the opportunity. Everything looked legit.

I covered the tracks, reviewed the company. I confirmed their existence, and I was ready; once they told me they would like to offer me the job, it sounded fantastic, they sent the offer letter via email. I signed it and sent it back to them via email (bad idea). Soon after that, they sent me another email expressing that I needed to purchase a MacBook and a fax machine with a Norton program and other Software. Things were looking great. They spoke of the benefits, the fact that employees can purchase shares. The job seemed easy enough, data entry and client service, something I can do while building my dreams as I complete my diploma, even if it means reaching for the lightbulb at home instead of the stars.

I was thrilled that I got the job! What made me feel unsettled in my toes and tummy was that this human resource person had stated that they needed to deposit some money so I could purchase the office equipment. She also mentioned that she would send the cheque in a pdf format, and I would have to print it off and then use my mobile banking app to deposit the cheque. I did it. Why did I do it? I double-checked their names and the company, and I knew they had my resume for quite some time now. I rationalize it by my past work experience where when I worked for a Chemical Co., my manager gave me money to set up all the offices for our operators coming from overseas, so I didn’t think much of this. I didn’t heed my inner warnings.

Conceptual hand writing showing Scam Alert. Concept meaning warning someone about scheme or fraud notice any unusual

The next thing that jarred me was when she texted, “you must get the office products right away so that your training can get started. I texted back, “okay.” What does one do when one does not have a husband to talk things over with? I called my dad, “Dad, did you hear I got the job with this awesome company? They have great benefits, and I can work the night shifts and still complete my studies during the day! It is a lot more money than what my last position paid me. Also, they sent me a cheque already in my email, which I deposited in my bank, and I am waiting to purchase the office equipment!” He said, “I just heard on the news not long ago about a student who did what you did print off the company cheque, deposited it in her bank, purchased what they asked her to, and then the cheque bounced. She was out all this money.”

I felt like I hit a wall. “I have been scammed.” After about 10 minutes of thinking, I panicked.

They had my name, address, a signature from the offer letter I signed. They had my confirmation that I sent them via email with my bank information. Wow! all in one afternoon! I was one busy girl.

I called my bank after the fact and told them of my recent deposit and that I needed them to check if the cheque cleared on their end. They told me it would take five business days to determine if it bounces. They logged my account, sent me to the fraud department, and advised me to make another account and transfer everything to be safe, which took the remainder of the afternoon into the evening. I contacted the local police they opened up a file. I called the TD bank, which the scammers used for their pdf cheque. The TD clerk took all the information down off the cheque and thanked me.

There is a lesson here: when you do an interview, do it over zoom or a remote job, then ensure you facetime, or skype with them and never download a pdf cheque and deposit it into your mobile bank app on your phone.

Okay, so I fell flat on my face, and it was okay because the sun shone somewhere else in the world, just not on me that day. I am wiser, and I am extra cautious now. Once things got straightened out on my end, I decided that bad things happen to vulnerable people. There is a good tune that cheered me up. I cranked up the volume and danced around my living room to the song by Blue October, ‘Life’s like a Jump Rope.’

Check this CBC news article here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/banks-online-scam-fake-cheque-fraud-td-1.6244111

The Red Cottage – Timeless Love

The Red Cottage, photo given to me from my Auntie Jean

by Christine Reeves

The moment we hit the dirt road, my windows rolled down, and we were able to touch the forage on the side of the road as we passed. I knew we were close to arriving at the red cottage. The tingles in my toes, my heart skipping a beat, my breath held and then released. If you recall watching a balloon filled with helium fly out from your hand, going straight up in the air, that was me ready to fly out of my seat in anticipation.

Upon arrival at the red cottage, my dad could not stop the car fast enough; before we could run out the door to look at the lake.

The red cottage is my favourite place where dreams come true, the family gathers, and love fills the air away from the school world, the drama of friends, traffic, and responsibility. Time is what we had there, a time of surprise where dreams unfold for everyone, where love comes together in one super present, ready to unwrap it takes your breath away. It wasn’t just the arrival; it was walking into the cottage that gave me a whole secure perspective. The familiar kitchen window overlooks the lake. The chair in front of the large window, my uncle, would look through his binoculars while we were in the lake swimming to make sure we didn’t pass the dock. If we did, he would wave and yell, “Come back, that’s too far!” Watching him jump up and down with his arms swaying like a tree moving to-and-fro in the wind made us giggle even more and sneak past the dock to see him do the ‘warning dance.’ We loved our Uncle Don.

Going to the bathroom was exciting because on the door was the ‘knock-knock plaque’ with a wooden hammer attached to it, to which we loved to take the hammer and knock incessantly for fun. However, it wasn’t so fun when it was my turn to use the bathroom, and my cousins would do the very same thing! The bedrooms were neatly dressed, the scent of my grandparent’s, and the orange marmalade jam smell in the kitchen I could almost taste it by memory. The colouring books stacked on the shelf and the large crayon box underneath them call me to pick them up and start colouring!

It was warm enough for a swim. My mother laid the luggage on the bed. She pulled out my favourite pink bathing suit with the buttons on the front. My sister grabbed hers already and ran down to the lake faster than fast. I was too dreamily taking in the ambiance and the curtains, the paisley flowers, the deck of cards we were going to play. The unloading of the goodies in the bag my dad brought in and set them on the counter. The fishing rods that looked so lonely lay against the wall in the corner by the door. The famous couch where all the adults sat watching our play and songs we made up for entertainment. I paused, looking into my cousin Stephen’s little bedroom window to hear the familiar birds. I missed listening to the song of the birds because, in the city, the noise drowns their music.  I loved his room. We were allowed to take turns sleeping in his room, which made it exceptionally exciting when it got to be my turn. I was the youngest.  In his room at night, you could hear the crickets; the rhythmic song always put me to sleep.

Then looking at the weapon that took down a blood-thirsty bat, the famous broom was standing in the corner of the hallway. I remember one evening a bat flew in the door. Everyone ran wildly all over the place. My aunt yelled, “cover your hair!”, my mother ran into the bathroom, my sister and cousins ran outside and me? I watched the fun unfold as I clung to my hair, peeking through my strands, praying the vampire bat wouldn’t suck our blood. My dad was the true hero in the story. He took the broom and our butterfly net, caught the bat, and let it go outside.

What is even more precious is when my grandmother puts the kettle on because once she starts the kettle, that means its Storytime. We sat by her feet while she shared her adventures when she was young. Then the family gathers around the table to play cards. I don’t remember the kinds of games we played. I remember my grandmother laughing so hard she accidently peed in her pants. I knew that love intertwines in memory of each of our hearts that grows inside me. Family love is shared, experienced, and transparently moves into the present and designs the future. Do you see? It isn’t just the Red Cottage I speak of; it’s the love that filled it and the love that continues to fill us.

The Wedding Day

by Christine Reeves

Pure white peony flowers as floral art background, wedding decor and luxury branding design

Two by each travelling by
summer’s heat and winter’s freeze
spring blossomed, and fall got cold
long before we knew it so

Marijuana haze, eyes a glaze
simple loving became a craze
of one by one each alone
united by love
addiction transpired
nothing is what it seems

I longed for dreams of white
satin laces
warm nights in a loving embrace
walks and journeys, expeditions long overdue
I never knew of these

My soul reaches for the little boy
long bitter heart controlled
emotions rise and rejection soar
long before we knew for sure
love has split and broken

I meant my words on that simple
day, before God, I sat and prayed
a will and a hope of love to stay
that only winter’s freeze took away
Promises and calming hugs
never an action to make it okay

I began to yearn for the day
the wounds of loss on that fateful night
would shed the pain and healing might
restore your faith again

I miss my dreams of all we had
all the loving shared that mattered
it seems to me I hold a candle that lights
the truth that lies scattered
I know what it means to stay lit
in the face of disaster

Anniversary’s come every year
love passes some with cheer
ours has broken from lack of mirror
the actions hurt confusion and denial
power and less nothing can resolve
an empty nest

Love remains the same
love doesn’t change
selfish means rip apart
what golden rings meant from the start
the beginning of a white wedding.

The Thift Store

My friend took me to this quaint little place called the Bargain Bin, which is located downstairs under the United Church. This Church is over 110 years old. You would never know. I say this because it looks well kept, and the structure is sturdy. The face, doorway, and the steeple built with love embedded into its frame. It was the perfect escape I needed from the craziness of the current horror story unraveling in the news daily by going to a thrift store that I hadn’t gone to in a long, long time.

This place holds stories in each piece of ornament, dishware, handmade pottery, and antiques. I wondered what the owners could tell me if I were to sit with them in time as they explained their treasures. It is like walking into the past for a moment despite the current clothing trends. The staff took their time to do what many have done from years past. Raise money for organizations in need.

People once moved through this community long before it was named Peachland. This place comes with an exciting history that stone and earth intertwine this community that has built longstanding trust in God, with each other and through one another.

Somehow earth had warmed
Somehow earth had shifted
The ice of water freezes life in its tracks
Glaciers broke, and signs of life emerged
The beat of the heartbeat began so many years before
How natives danced beneath the ice core
Peaks and valleys pointed up to the sun
And many people found their way to run
Creatures followed as birthing mother breaks forth
A newborn baby travels the course
that there flowed melted glaciers that formed 
structures that tower above us? 
This erosion is what is needed to melt hearts 
that have become cold that changes the weather 
from human works of stupidity to believe 
that we are greater than our environment 
than our bodies condition. 
We mess with structure and the structure breaks. 
We trust God and new health wakes

This place is tucked away in the basement of the Church in Peachland. I walked right in front of the bookshelf and somehow found the most incredible honey I could find. The sweetness of finding a small corner of the best books I could only dream of seeing all in one place and its not a bookstore!

The current heaviness from the battles we face daily escaped me. I now hold prized books from scholarly excellence of stories that orchestrate life’s melody in pages of wooden trees is a leaf filled with stories hooked onto its branch spreading over nations.

I found myself smiling.

One of the books I found is called “Stolen Life The Journey of a Cree Woman,” by Rudy Wiebe and Yvonne Johnson.

“Nothing just happens, my friend, unless it was meant to be…If we are guided under the Bear, then even our futures can be changed… YOU and I may have been chosen long ago to meet, and our past has given us each a gift of understanding.” 

Yvonne Johnson to Rudy Wiebe excerpt from the book Stolen Life, Chapter 1. 1998, Jackpine House Ltd., First Vintage, Canada Edition, 1999.

Another book I found called “Bedtime Stories for Grown-ups by Ben Holden made me chuckle. I remember the goodness that love’s memory carried over and awakened at the thought of my mother reading while I lay on her lap, hearing the sound of her voice and her heartbeat with the rhythm and pulse of love’s drum. I have slept peacefully since. I haven’t read the stories in this book, but I am intrigued and looking forward to it.

I picked more books but I cannot name them all.

The next treasure I picked up was the perfect scene. This painting captivated my eyes and my heart. The colors are beautiful. It isn’t that often one can find something so beautiful and rare in a bit of a nook. The painting is on my wall above the desk where I write. The perfect inspiration!

Look at the wall before and after:  my silly scribbles or this wonderful painting? You see my point?

my wall then, my wall now *smiles*

While I discussed art with the cashier, her smile and gentleness lifted my spirits. My soul awakened to the goodness of others. People in our lives and the community instill hope for the future and a beautiful mystery waiting to solve. It is in anticipation of love that tears dry and separation eases.

Despite our current sufferings, we can be sure that this will change like a shift when we do something out of the ordinary to escape the pressing issues that demand attention.

I embrace the idea that exploring the mystery of life is enough to know love when corrosion unleashes and breaks the dam that life circumstances eroded in a soul that has held off what kept it from making a lake I now love to swim in.

Experiment Drama – Gas

Design made using Canva by Christine Reeves Drama continued by Christine Reeves

Gas by Jose Rivera, Page 353
(CHEO starts to pump gas. As he pumps the gas, he notices something horrifying. He pulls the nozzle out of the car. Blood comes out of the gas pump. CHEO stares and stares at the bloody trickle coming out of the gas pump.) BLACKOUT.

Characters:
Cheo
Roman (gas attendant-who happens to be Cheo’s brother)

(Spotlight: Centre Stage-Cheo staring at the gas pump holding the nozzle as blood trickles out)

Cheo. Fucking sick, hey! Hello, YOU FUCKING DIPSHIT look at this mess; what do you got going on here? DIPSHIT COME OVER HERE! We got something BAD over here! we got BAD GAS here!

(Waves at the gas attendant)

Roman. Cheo old man. It’s not bad gas. Its my blood that’s spilled from Riyadh, my blood bro, my blood is spilled all over the desert dust.

Cheo. There is no time for jokes. Come and fix this gas pump here so that I can go on my way.

Roman. It’s me, Cheo, It’s me, Roman, your little brother.

(Spotlight on Roman flicker blue and gold lights)

Cheo. It finally happened, I fucking snapped, mom lost it too we’re losing our heads.

(He sits by the truck tire the gas nozzle dropped)

Roman. My death happened fast. We underestimated the Iraqi troops; we thought the previous attacks weakened them. We got it wrong; they prepared for a counter-attack. The weather was terrible. There was blowing sand and rain, we could hardly see the enemy lines. That’s when we got hit; our station exploded. That’s how my body got scattered over the sands of the desert. My blood pours out to you brother.

Cheo. It can’t be. I’m fucking losing it.

(Turns to look at Roman beside him spotlight shines on the two brothers Cheo traces Roman’s face)

But, you, you do look like my little brother. I was thinking about the time mom brought you home, you were so tiny. I thought you were like a doll or something. When she told me to sit down, and put you in my arms, I wouldn’t dare show it, but I loved you then, Roman. You grew so fast. You were the one that touched the heart of everyone. Unlike me, I had to make sure the family could eat, you know? That you had what you needed. You Lil Shit! What the fuck were you thinking about joining the army. Your family needs you, Roman not the President, not the country, us your family! Now your guts are spilled all over the fucking sands. You didn’t know this, but your ugly wife is pregnant. That’s right, trust me, it’s your baby!

Roman. I needed you to know that you were like a father to me Cheo. Whenever I had nightmares, you came into my room, holding me until mom got home Whenever I hurt myself, it was you bandaging me up because mom had to work so much. Cheo, before I got killed, God showed me your heart. You know, it’s okay to marry Dinah, she’s beautiful. She won’t make the cover of those magazines, but she’s got a good heart Cheo, and she loves you.

Cheo. We counted on those letters Roman, it told us you, you, were ALIVE. I’m thinking of the time I whooped your ass good when you gave our savings to the homeless guy down the street. You remember that?

Roman. He was a war veteran Cheo, lost his legs, who else was going to help him? You were so mad you chased me for blocks threating to kill me if I ever tried to come back home. But, there you were, driving all over the place trying to find me. It didn’t take you long. You knew all my hiding places. That’s when I could see that you loved me. You were crying like a girl, hugging me, telling me you would never kill me and that it’s ok.

Cheo. I need to apologize to you, Roman, I didn’t know how to be a big brother. There was a time that I felt overburdened, and I could see it hurt you. But once I got a job out of town and left for a few months. You were crying and screaming for me to come back, and I just ignored you. The thing is little bro, if I looked back, I wouldn’t have been able to go, and it would’ve kill me right then and there like a torpedo explosion.

Roman. I forgive you Cheo, you were hard on me, but that’s because you cared. When mom was in the hospital, you made sure she had the best care, and you coordinated round the clock family time to get her through. That’s your heart big brother, that is the kind of heart you have. When I was out there in the desert inside the tank, I swore that if anything happened to me that I would be able to tell you it’s going to be ok Cheo. You can be an uncle to my baby girl. I’ll watch out for her from heaven.

Cheo. Ok, no bringing up that nonsense religious fucking shit on me, Roman. It’s enough mom thinks I’m going to hell. But you? What’s Heaven Roman?

Roman. I had this dream out there in the desert when the bombs were going off in Kuwait. I was running in this field with tall grass, and there was this crazy windmill in the distant. I ran towards it, but it turned out to be this shack all boarded up. I peeked in the window and there was pure white sheets covering the furniture on the inside.

Cheo. The gulf war got to your head, Lil bro, come on now, this sounds like a dream. A dream this isn’t real.

Roman. I pried the door open and walked in. I walked through cobwebs, but once I was inside, the sheets were as white as snow. There was food left on the table, rotting. I walked towards the kitchen, there was this mummy case, you know, like the kind of King Tut tomb mummy? I was dazzled! All those colourful paints like gold and royal blue made that mummy case spectacular. I pried that thing open. I wasn’t afraid of no dead body. It flipped open, and there was Jesus Cheo; he took my hand and spoke to me without using his mouth. He took me outside, and it was so beautiful Cheo, the colors in Heaven are so vivid, nothing on earth can compare to that. There was this boat see? It was a red boat by the shore. I had this sense Cheo to row for him deep in my gut. Jesus took the oars and rowed the boat for me. I did nothing compared to what you did for our family Cheo. But I need you to know that there is a God, and he loves you. He wants you to help others and go to Church with mom. She’s going to need God right now when she finds out that I’m not coming home to give her HOPE Cheo. You got this. You can do this. Jesus is real, and everything is going to be okay. I want you to trust me.

Cheo.

(Crying holding onto Roman, I don’t want you to go, your my little brother, we need you hear man, we need you fucking here)

Roman. I’ll always be your little brother Cheo. I’m always going to be with you. We are going to see each other again. Trust me. You need to make sure mom knows that when you go back, and you tell her the news.

(background change – spot light shines in the back where the trees and flowers are. Roman is feeling an urgency)

It’s time, Cheo, I gotta go. God’s calling me home. You got to be strong for me, okay? Like you always were strong. You got this, Cheo!

Cheo.

(Brother’s hug 1 minute-music starts Roman goes towards the back and disappears. Spotlight on Cheo he falls to the ground on his knees as the light where Roman stood flickered black)

Fucking war, fucking Gulf fucking war, the fucking desert.

(He sees something shining and glowing on the ground. Spotlight on the ground. Cheo picks up his brother’s dog tags)

It’s fucking real, it’s fucking true. I’m going to make you proud, Roman. You watch from heaven little brother. I’m going to be the best fucking uncle and the best God father EVER!

(He puts the dog tags over his head . Picks up the gas pump and sticks it into his car. Fills the car with gas Spotlight fades to black)

Upcoming Events

“There is always space to join a place that brings community face to face or wire to wire when we enquire”
Quote by Christine Reeves

UBC Events 2021 that are open to the Community

Okanagan College Event Open to the Community

Business Expo and Employment Fair
Wednesday, February 2, 2022
10:00 AM to 3:00 PM open to the community
https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/business/business-expo

Indigenous Speaker Series
Secwepemc activist, mother, water and land defender, and member of the Tiny House warriors Kanahus Manuel as their next speaker in the Indigenous Speaker Series event.
February 4th at 6:00 PM Those who wish to attend that goes for anyone in the community can attend so please invite them to zoom as well. More details click here:
https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/indigenous-speaker-series-event

Okanagan Regional Library

Online Writing/Reading Events…

Around the Okanagan

Downtown Kelowna

Metro Cafe

Okanagan Heritage Museum


West Kelowna


Naramata


Rutland

Rutland Winter Fest
February 13-21st, 2022
https://www.rutlandrec.com/winterfest

Armstrong

Joyride Sleighride

Presented by Caravan Farm Theatre
Begins December 3rd, 2021 to January 2nd 2022 click below for all the dates it is $63.00 but worth it! Starting times are at 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM
https://www.tourismkelowna.com/event/joyride-sleighride/27698/

Armstrong Spullumcheen Museum and Art Gallery
8th Annual Festival of Trees
December 7th-23 and December 28-30th
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM Tuesdays through Saturday

Gigantic Book Sale
April 6th to December 30th (There is still time!)
Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
https://armstrongspallmuseumart.com/

Vernon
Victorian Christmas at Historic O’Keefe Ranch

Big White Ski Resort

Saturday Fireworks
The Greatest Show in Town
Saturdays December 4th, 2021 7:30 PM Ending April 2nd, 2022
https://www.bigwhite.com/events-activities/events-calendar/saturday-fireworks

Free Mountain Tours
For Everyone!
December 10th, 2021 through to April 9th, 2022
Book online here:
https://www.bigwhite.com/events-activities/winter-activities/free-mountain-tours

Silver Star Mountain Resort

The Annual Light Up

Christmas Craft Nights – Ginger Bread Houses
The spots are limited pre-booking… necessary!
Night 1 – December 22, 2021 at 6:00 PM
Night 2 – December 23, 2021 at 6:00 PM
https://www.skisilverstar.com/events/christmas-craft-night/






Experiment 7-Drama

Based on: The Werewolf, by Angela Carter, Pg. 153

The Werewolf

Characters:

Blanchette: Italian 7-year-old female known as, ‘The good child’

Cesaire: Werewolf

Setting: In the woods inside the book of the fable The Werewolf

Time: mid-morning

Blanchette:

(The child wiped the blade of her knife clean on her apron, wrapped up the wolf’s paw in the cloth in which her mother had packed the oatcakes and went towards her grandmother’s house.) (Carter 153)

Cesaire: Gulping and whimpering, BlanchEEEEETTE! That was uncalled for. Do you see that boulder over there? I happen to know there is a hole underneath it. It used to be an old well, a deep, deep hole; I’m going to throw YOU in it and cover it up!

Blanchette: Idle threats don’t work. Cesaire come out from where you are, and let’s discuss this over oatcakes?

Cesaire: (lies down under the old oak tree licking his stump). I am tired of this; how long must we keep this up before the story gets too dull for children and they stop liking it?

Blanchette: Well, perhaps you should have thought of that before you came into the forest to kill me? The rule is you were supposed to run past me and get grandmother first, FIRST, not go for my jugular. You are so unwise sometimes. I get to be ‘The good child’, and you get to be the bad werewolf. That’s the story. Why did you change it?

Cesaire: I am so bored with the same story. I wanted to kill you off in hopes we would both get transformed into a rabbit, you know, like that movie people are watching on Netflix, ‘Watership Down,’ it’s so much more sophisticated and exciting than this.

Blanchette: The story will end when parents stop reading the story. That’s that stop being so overdramatic.

Cesaire: I flashed my red eyes on the mother while she read the story right before I attacked you.

Cesaire laughing

Blanchette: How many times have I told you that when you screw with the plot AND the reader, it screws everything else up?

Cesaire: She blinked and saw me! Well, what’s the worst that can happen, Blanchette, the reader throwing the book away? OOOO I’m scared.

Blanchette: Nothing, I guess, I don’t know. The reader never caught you before like this one.

Cesaire: Do you see that? The mother just lit a match?

Blanchette: Oh, dear, she’s burning the book. My goodness, this is a first. Why did you have to freak the mother out? SHEESH.

Cesaire: Well, can you share those oatcakes now that they are steaming hot before we die?

Blanchette: Yeah, just for the record, this is ALL your fault; if it wasn’t for you, we could have at least got to the grandmother’s house and eat a decent meal, but noooooooooooo you had to freak the mother out!

(The Werewolf and The good child sit and eat oatcakes together as the forest burns).

December 2020

Thinking About Endings and Death

Scenic cemetery and tombstone.Gravestone and Halloween background.Surreal graveyard.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh!” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

It has been a while since I have written. It has a lot to do with my community that has gone through a different kind of ending. What do I mean by that? Some restaurants have permanently closed, some are on the brink of closing, and some I do not know what happened. They are just gone.

There are endings of relationships that are the most difficult to handle and the termination of employment for some or loss of health for others.

homeless man lost his job due to coronavirus COVID-19, he stands with cardboard, need shelter and food, isolated in studio

Many goodbyes.

My son held unto his comfort blanky as though it was a part of himself and that he would not survive without it.  My son gave me his comfort blanket. It now lays on his bed; because he is much too old for such things as that. I felt the pain of it all.  I mean, this is the blanket that I would rush 20 minutes to go back to where we were to get that blanket in the wee hours of the morning because he would not sleep without it and because he was heartbroken.

Blanky Christine Reeves

One day I washed his comfort blanket. He asked where his blanky had gone; I remembered I had hung it up to dry on the balcony. We frantically searched EVERYWHERE for his blanky, and it was nowhere.  My son, sorrowful, went into his playroom to weep. And sure enough, after being so sad, I went outside to search and contact the neighbours in case blanky had blown their way.  There, on the ground was his forever friend, his beloved blanky. I found true joy at that moment seeing my son’s whole self light up like a lit-up Christmas tree.  It was pure happiness.

Death is a challenging topic to write if one is not writing a horror story or living in one.

We live in ‘time.’ And time, unfortunately, is passing.

I went to a Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed through the Church in my local area.  I have never gone to a Commemoration like that before.  It was touching. A few of us were there with families at the cemetery.  We had time to stand there, and talk while waiting for the Priest to start the commemoration. It is funny what people talk about standing in a cemetery.  We spoke of marriages, and this one short woman with a very downcast face said, “my husband and I were married for 54 years, and he died two months ago.” We all went silent for a time. Then we discussed marriages. A few couples addressed the length of their marriage, and then there was me, the ‘divorced’ one. I had nothing much to say except I was embracing endings. Which got me thinking of a book I once read, ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

Mitch Albom

My grandmother was quite the woman.  She was stubborn and had to do things her way, even to the point of putting herself out and damaging her own life to prove a point. I am sure Jesus had to run through many fields and forests, even through thick walls, to get to her!  There is irony because when the Priest told us to disperse and find our loved ones instructed us to put out our hands, and he would come and give them a blessing with holy water.  Well, my mother and I walked clean across a long, long, long, long stretch where my grandmother lay buried, which was the very last row. By the time we got there, everyone else had left. My mom and I were jumping up and down, calling the Priest. He looked over to where we were from the top of the hill, and he could not find the stairs.

So what did he do? 

He jumped the wall. I thought he could hurt himself, but he was okay, and then he walked briskly over to us in the muddy grass.  We tried to tell him there were stairs and a path, but he couldn’t hear us we were so far. When he finished the blessing, I chuckled out loud. “What are you laughing at?” my mom asked me. “It just shows you, even in death she took the hard way, that a priest has to jump hurdles to get to her,” I said, giggling.

Speaking about death and how one lived can be funny at the right time. 

My mom and I had our laughs, which was also part of celebrating her extraordinary life. While we were walking towards the parking lot, I thought about what the Priest said: “everyone who dies is sleeping.” I found that comforting and disturbing.

Comforting knowing that if everyone there is just sleeping, I will see all my family and my pets in Heaven that the bodies of those I love will be made new and come out like they just woke up from a long sleep.  Disturbing because I have read too many ghost stories and read too many horror books in my past that taints my images that I need to readjust my head to my heart. Ghosts are actual, and so is Heaven. We will not talk about hell because that is another topic for another day.

You smiled so joyfully
even though death filled
your body.
You shined like the sun,
when you clasped
your hands in prayer.
I didn’t realize how a warm washcloth
could make you feel so much better,
that I looked at love in your face. 
Your face had felt deep pain.
I held your hand while your breath was labored
You told me everything is good.
You came in my room a day after you died
You hugged my hand
You taught me to live life and love deep,
That love is alive and forever.
The hope of all hope is light in great sorrow.
Great endings have always been about
the beginning of tomorrow.
Remembering is to grasp onto the history
of what is authentically you.
I think it is necessary to live love and dance
While we journey through.

Serena Ryder Stompa

Essay 3 Part 2

by Christine Reeves

Blackhole within the Ministry of Children and Family Development for Some Families

Millions of dollars are used in court, battling parents in public hearings, adjournments, and trials. The Ministry of Children and Families (MCFD) must go to court to assume guardianship until the matter is set for another public hearing to prove the child/children need protection.

“Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) Total expenditures in MCFD for 2019/20 will reach $2.06 billion—increasing a further $272.3 million (+15.2%) over last year. The budget will increase again.” (5) (6)

“While the above measures account for the bulk of new ministry spending in 2019/20, expenditures in child safety, family support and children in care services also increased by $41.8 million, in 2019/20 (+6.5), and by a further $8 million (+1.2%) in each of the two remaining years of the fiscal plan,” (5) (6) BCGEU Budget Analysis 2019/20 BC Government Employee Union.

I read an article in Globe and Mail about a mother named S; she lost custody of her children over a fight with her husband, the father, which cost them their three children to MCFD. One would have to read their entire story to understand the grave blackhole this family is enduring due to the social workers who bulldozed their way in and have her newborn. Their baby’s name is M; the province owns her. Mother S breastfed her baby in a room at the hospital. It cost $60,000 to remain in the hospital, but because of violence and MCFD not trying to work out a solution, instead, they removed baby M and placed her in care and mother S was not allowed to bring her baby home.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-bc-indigenous-child-welfare-fight/

I cannot catch my breath when my heart lies outside my body, the sheer beauty of a woman is to bear a child in her womb. Yet, the evil in the world destroys the very hope of a unified grace of ‘family.’ The government is legally stealing babies and children by a higher system in the MCFD. They bully their workers and have the power over the innocent. What happens is that they adopt children who are loved and foster children out who are not unwanted or unloved. Who are these wolves in sheep clothing that bear gifts to the innocent and destroy the hearts of mothers while running from violent husbands? As soon as you are in an abusive relationship, you are immediately on the MCFD radar.

“Total Revenue: $681,101; MCFD (Ministry of Children and Family Development), contracts and grants $650,293, grants, donations and other income $30,808. Total expenses: $715,834; staff run great programs $401,293, supplies for great programs $120,501, lights and everything working, $194,087. Thank you, everyone, for your contributions to another wonderful year for our community and the youth in care movement.” Federation of Youth in Care – Pamphlet

Fbcyicn.ca annual report 2016-217, Debbie Cox Board Chair

Women get free makeovers and a free card to get their hair done. Meanwhile, the battered women’s husband hires a lawyer to fight for custody of their child. Mothers get passes to go swimming and a safe place to be; meanwhile, the ex-husband, who has a lot of money, begins to build a case against the mother. She, of course, must represent herself, then when that fails, she gets legal aid. Unfortunately, most legal aid lawyers are incompetent in the courts or end up siding with the MCFD. Why is that? I don’t know? The very government was against one particular mother who we will call D regardless of the truth. You see, places like the women’s shelter are good at providing passes to get clothing for cheap, passes for makeovers; they can even help you flee your abusive partner. They have a witness after abuse program for the kids at the Kelowna Women Shelter they provide excellent housing.

“I went to a group session that happened every week for mothers who left their abusive husbands, a program that runs through what was known as the Kelowna Family Counseling Centre. What I began to notice about this group were women who lost their children to the MCFD, and some lost custody of their child and were given custody to their abusive husbands. I asked the counsellor if I was in the wrong group because these women aren’t just women who are abused; they are women who lost their children.” Cecile said.

“Central Okanagan Emergency Shelter Society, statement of operations, for the year of March 2018, Revenue $2, 010,818.” (P11)

This non-for-profit society refers women to MCFD, just as some lawyers represent MCFD and work for legal aid. Where does one go for the right kind of help? The parody of it all is that mothers get to do the right thing, then get penalized for speaking out about it in court. For mothers, this is a no-win situation except for MCFD, who has the funding to take families to court and adopt their child/children out or force their children into foster care, the foster parents who have these children through MCFD get paid for it. We, citizens, are informed by how MCFD reveals themselves to the public by so-called ‘experts. I am learning through my research that MCFD is the breeding ground for ‘bullying social workers’ and misguided policies.

“After my son disclosed sexual abuse, we were ordered for testing and more testing by MCFD, who told us we had to go to the scan clinic. When the director took me to court, they told the judge that I put my child through the emotional trauma of having numerous exams and too many appointments to doctors. You see, I had to follow procedures presented before me; otherwise, I wouldn’t get to see my son. These orders came by the MCFD, the RCMP and guided by Elizabeth Fry Society.” Cecile said.

“Removal of child 30 (1) A director may, without a court order, remove a child if the director has reasonable grounds to believe that the child needs protection and that (b) no other less disruptive measure that is available is adequate to protect the child,”

Child, Family and Community Service Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 46 Part 3 Child Protection, Removal of a child section 30 http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/00_96046_01#section30 Copyright (c) Queen’s Printer, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

“why does my daddy hurt me, I never did anything to him why does he hurt me” her son screamed, crying on her bed. What is a mother to do? When those very authorities are the ones who add abuse to the abused and traumatize the family on a much graver twisted level?” Cecile wept.

Reason to believe can be any abuse; the more a person reads the MCFD Protection of Children Act and the pamphlet, the more horrific this can be for good families and parents who flee domestic violence. Why is this horrific? Because there is no way to protect the parent from being abused by the other parent. Why? Because it all boils down to one thing: he said, she said, and the MCFD bring their findings to the court in the best interest of the child/dren without proper investigation discussion and proper guidance. The MCFD has gotten so huge that they are adding more locations in every town and city to prey on families who get on their radar.

“What does ‘Reason to Believe’ mean? ‘Reason to believe’ means that based on what you have seen or information you have received, you believe a child or youth has been or is likely to be at risk. You do not need to be certain. It is the child protection worker’s job to determine whether abuse or neglect has occurred or is likely to occur,”

Duty to Report Pamphlet: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/public-safety/protecting-children/t15-0191_dutytoreport_pamphlet11x85in2folds.pdf

These black holes leave open for directors that do not follow proper protocol. They leave a child’s life in the hands of social workers and team leaders who aren’t monitored or reviewed. There is no other person to oversee these social workers that may be themselves abusive.

“You pissed the MCFD workers off, all you need to do is tell them you will never go to the police again, and you can keep your son. That’s all they want to hear; that’s all the judge wants to hear you say.” Cecile’s lawyer said in a tiny room at the courthouse.

Bullying from legal aid lawyers, lawyers who work for MCFD, and judges who rule for MCFD make the family court look like a shooting gallery to good parents. Powerless overpowers that hold their child’s life in the hands of a system that does not love their child but sees an opportunity to adopt these children out or foster them because they can.

“I looked for you forever, and a night, I couldn’t find where you went, mommy, your too far away.” Cecile’s child said on the phone through her ex-husband’s cell phone.

“Mommy, I was looking for you with my bare feet and pyjamas at night, and I called for you, but you weren’t there, and you didn’t come to get me,” Alicia’s child said. She heard this from her son after a traumatic 5-year battle in court with the MCFD, who kept making new orders and hearings to try to adopt her son out for all those years. MCFD dollars paid for all court hearings and adjournments and their lawyer fees and paid the foster parent who abused her son, all for what? Long overdue justice? There are still women who are losing their children to the MCFD, and no one is looking into this seriously. Our tax money is going to a child kidnapping business under the disguise of helping families stay with families.

One mother called MCFD because the other mother wouldn’t allow her son to play with her daughter. After all, they weren’t getting along. A few years back, this mother lost custody of her son because her abusive husband made a call to MCFD to ensure she was on their radar. They did no investigation; she ended up seeing her child in a room under supervision. She didn’t do drugs or drinks and did nothing to her son except being a good mother (anonymous mother still fighting to get her child back). How horrific is that to happen to one mother who lost her child because of a mentally unstable neighbour, later proved. Her son is still in the hands of her abusive ex-husband.

“He needs to have his nightlight on, and he takes two puffs of his Q-VAR puffer at night; he needs a humidifier; otherwise, it’s much too dry. He usually gets storytime and a song to help him sleep at night.” Cecile said. She placed a letter inside the bag with her son’s belongings, his favourite stuffy’s, and his medical bag. She tried to protect her son; she did what she was told to do by the MCFD social workers and doctors. She even followed the advice from the Kelowna Women’s shelter. She tried to work with her ex-husband, unfortunately in abusive relationships, there is no communicating or co-parenting in abuse.

“In situations of violence against women in relationships, the abusive man and/or his family often control the partner by threatening her with the removal of her children and then reporting her to a child welfare worker. Some abusive partners involved in custody and access situations will report the mother to a child welfare worker in an attempt to build a ‘better case’ against her. The motivation of the reports may be an attempt to control the mother as opposed to a realistic concern for the children’s safety and well being although this can also occur. If the reporter is a current or estranged partner, be cognizant of the preceding dynamics and complete a careful assessment of all of the pertinent information.” (9)

Best Practice Approaches Child Protection and Violence against Women https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/public-safety/protecting-children/best_practice_approaches_policy.pdf

Money flowed down from

Monsters who creep in the night

Who keep watch over your life?

Too scared to talk

Too scared to move

The workers might hear me

All I want is my mother

The workers bear gifts

Then yell at me

Who can hear me when I call?

All I want is my mother

written by a mother

The rich man stands while the poor mother bends, the pride is tall, but the poor are bent.

The mother who loves is bent and weak, but her heart stands tall as she stammers and fights to gather her sheep from the bad wolves who came to devour them. It Makes one think about the Disney movie called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, about a single parent father, who loves his children very much but the child snatcher comes to town and steals his children and he goes and fights for them. Who will fight for the parents who somehow fall under MCFD radar who are loving? Who is the one to save the children from the big bad wolf?

This is going on in Canada. These indigenous families and those who are suffering from violence in their relationships who have children are losing custody when they are loving parents. I can only guess that after all is said and done, it must be power and money? What other reason is there? I don’t have those answers. I have the solution, change the Child Protection Act, make the MCFD accountable, and bring children who are wrongfully taken back to their loving parents.

Work Citation

BCGEU Budget Analysis 2019/20 BC Government Employee Union

Macdonald, Nancy, 2019, “No way out: How a mother is fighting to keep her Indigenous children out of care”, The Globe and Mail Newspaper

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-bc-indigenous-child-welfare-fight/

Debbie Cox, Board Chair, Federation of Youth in Care – Pamphlet, fbcyicn.ca annual report 2016/17, https://fbcyicn.ca/sites/default/files/Annual%20Report%2C%202016-2017.pdf

Fidalgo, Roberta, President of the Board, Mason, Karen, Executive Director, 2018 KWS (Kelowna Women’s Shelter), Annual Report 2018, page 11

Child, Family and Community Service Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 46 Part 3 Child Protection, Removal of a child section 30 http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/00_96046_01#section30

Copyright © Queen’s Printer, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Government of BC Canada, Ministry of Children Family Development, Ministry of Family Duty to Report Pamphlet

For more information, see our website at: http://www.gov.bc.ca/mcfd

Reeves 10

Best Practice Approaches Child Protection and Violence against Women, Policy, Minister of Children and Family Development (P9)

Mothers I have met through the women I have come to know and care about but will not divulge their last name for safety (quotes from them: Cecile, Alicia, and unknown mother)

Essay 3-Part 1

Credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

Black hole within the Ministry of Children and Family Development for Some Families

There is discord within the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) that reveals some families are being torn apart by MCFD, who remove some children with no proven cause. One mother I know shared her sorrow and grief of being a victim of MCFD’s power. In 2013, She and her 7-year old son were packing his toys into two large bags. The courts stripped her of her mothering rights due to her not having proper representation in court to defend herself. In contrast, her abusive ex-husband, the father of their son, who has money, stood in court with the MCFD to back him up won custody, and the mother accused of thwarting access of over eight years which wasn’t true. They relied heavily on a report made by a psychiatrist who the MCFD ordered a section 211. The MCFD told her that she would not see her son for a long time if she didn’t make this available psychiatrist. She wasn’t aware at the time that this psychiatrist was under investigation for his reports. The MCFD used him anyway.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/allan-posthuma-psychologist-domestic-violence-1.5352600

MCFD took her 7-year old and gave her child to the father, who had a past drunk driving charge, smokes drugs, abused them both and stood by him in court where he was permitted to take their son to a different Province based on the psychiatrist’s reports. 

Since the day MCFD took her child on false grounds, she had countless evidence that the BC courts didn’t look at due to the persecution by the MCFD, with no evidence except 

“In court, the director from MCFD used the words, ‘we have reason to believe.’ I have been struggling to see my son ever since”. This mother shared.

“Goal 2: Strengthen supports and prioritize resources for families and children based on their needs, in collaboration with communities and their partners to keep families safely together and improve support improve outcomes” (MCFD 2019/2020 Service Plan 4)

After reading the service plan, then looking back at news stories of good parents fighting to get their children back from the MCFD, this makes me question everything about MCFD. Some children who the MCFD took from good parents were placed in foster care. For some of those families, it is crucial to get proper representation because if the child stays in MCFD care with the MCFD for more than six months, the MCFD can make an order to adopt the children out. There is no law protecting families from MCFD who are legally kidnapping children.

I read an article in the news recently about baby H:

“Baby H was taken from parents 90 minutes after being born”, this was an indigenous couple. The mother had a C-section and was given medication. MCFD claims they received an email from a staff member that the newborn is at risk. MCFD took the newborn and placed baby H in foster care. The couple is still fighting for their baby.

(https://aptnnews.ca/2019/06/20/b-c-cfs-moves-in-to-seize-90-minute-old-baby-on-report-of-neglect/).

“Carol is Jessi’s mama, now a ghost mama, whispering into the ears of the fertile red nation plant seeds in the ground and in the womb, ground zero for a revolution. She reads in the 2013 census report that since 2006 the indigenous population increased from 3.8% to 4.3% of the colonial nation and she dances knowing there are even more babies ones who avoided becoming state stats like kanahus’s freedom babies unregistered babies taken into the woods knowing this she dances and she puts her back into it” (Eng 15)

This piece that Eng writes, I believe, is not a dance of joy. While Eng’s last line in the poem, “she dances and she puts her back into it” (Eng 15). To me, it signifies strength, the very bone of a woman is the spine strong enough to handle the weight of carrying a baby, only to then be separated and oppressed from her child. Yet mothers are brave, and ‘the dance’ signifies a battle for families who love their children who are randomly taken away by the MCFD government with more power than the RCMP and no governing body to oversee them.

“We are on the highway in Vancouver, starting our drive back home to Medicine Hat. The car stops suddenly and then there are two really angry men yelling, “Open the fucking door”. They smashed open the window and they’re grabbing my dad, one by the hair, the other by the throat. It looks like they wanna strangle him. My dad is kicking, he’s fighting, but it doesn’t work, they take him and he’s gone.” (Eng 19)

Powerlessness, a family is torn and separated. Government policies override human rights, a family of love ripped apart by governing laws.

How many more children have to be traumatized and taken from good parents for proper investigations and monitoring of falsely judged families? How many laws are broken, and no one is investigating this problem of years and years of MCFD bullying against some good parents who have been wronged or are reported by false allegations or false motives? Or have health conditions that leave them needing respite if they have no family for help?

“Objective 2.1: Recognize the importance of prevention, early intervention and voluntary services in keeping families safely together and review the ministry’s allocation of time, effort and finding dedicated towards these activities.” (MCFD 2019/20-2021/22 Service Plan February 2019. 4). 

This objective is misleading. When we compare it with the news article about a foster teen in MCFD’s care jumped from a hotel window according to the coroner, May 2016. (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/alex-gervais-coroners-report-1.3575970).

In 2018 there were a total of 6, 698 children and youth in care. These are the numbers that MCFD put out in this link. https://mcfd.gov.bc.ca/reporting/services/child-protection/permanency-for-children-and-youth/performance-indicators/children-in-care

“See me; my mouth is closed, the workers might hear.

They told me I will never see my mother again.

They buy me candy and presents to keep me from my family.

My mom is great. 

Her hands are tied.

by a system that told me she’s bad 

But that is a lie,”

(written by a mother whose child confided with her what the MCFD did to him while he was in their care).

Insidiously, one mother I spoke to shared that when she asked the ministry for help, she was very ill and needed to have a tumour removed and needed time to recuperate but had no family. Hence, she agreed that MCFD could have temporary care of her son while she gets better. MCFD did not return her son, instead placed him in foster care, then proceeded with a court hearing to adopt her ADHD son out. After fighting in court and five years later, she finally got her son back. She is a good mother. The trauma and PTSD, they both suffer from due to being separated by the MCFD left scars that you cannot see. Because he was neglected in foster care, they both had to go through therapy to recover from the after-effects.

“Key Stategies: -Advance a child focused, family centered approach by identifying and addressing policy and practice barriers to keeping children with family, extended family and community, and strengthening families through practice, culture, and resources” (MCFD 2019/2020 Service Plan 4)

Another mother still fights for her 9-year old son, whom MCFD removed from her. She is a good mother. They took her son while she was in the hospital getting surgeries done. Previous to the ongoing health issues, she was beaten by her ex-husband, the father of their son, who wounded her. She lost her two twins in her womb. The father was convicted and charged with assault. MCFD placed her son in the father’s care, and she is oppressed from seeing her child. This caused further trauma with this mother. It has been three years, and she is still battling to see her son.

These black holes in the Service Plan written by MCFD are not representing what is true to some families. By far healthy, overall well-rounded parents who are good must raise their voices if they fall victim to MCFD because money is at its root in most government plan or policy.

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