Derek and Frances Baars hosted foster children in their home in Hamilton, Canada, until 2017, when a disagreement between the family and the local government ended in the forced taking of the Baars’ children. The Hamilton Children’s Aid Society (CAS), which overlooks foster homes and orphanages in the city, ordered the couple to teach their two foster children about the Easter Bunny, as part of a shared “cultural” upbringing. The couple refused to lie to the children about the Easter Bunny’s existence. In response, the CAS ordered the foster home of the Baars family be closed, and the girls in their care rehomed. The Baars family lost their children, and the children their home, over refusing to lie about a fictional character.
With the assistance of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), a nonprofit law firm and Atlas Network partner based in Calgary, Alberta, the Baars family sued for their Charter freedoms of religion and expression—the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians’ civil rights in a similar way as the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled on March 6, 2018, that the Children’s Aid Society had violated the Charter rights of the Baars family. The Court found that the Baars family “were constantly promoting the children’s wellbeing” and “were clearly operating with the children’s best interests in mind.” However, the Baars will not be getting their girls back, and the previous decision by the CAS will make it difficult for them to foster more children in the future.
Derek and Frances Baars worked in conjunction with JCCF to create a short film and continue advocating for foster parents’ rights in Canada. The film, which depicts the events leading up to the Baars’ lawsuit against CAS, was produced by JCCF’s short video program. The program, which was created with the assistance of a grant from Atlas Network, will provide a series of similar short films to help promote Canadians’ individual rights and freedoms.
The short film TORN depicts the events leading up to the legal battle between the Baars family and the Children’s Aid Society.
Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms received project grants from Atlas Network to support its video program.