First Nations mother wins right to daughter's remains over foster parent

CBC NEWS EDMONTON | Gareth Hampshire, Scott Stevenson

'The reason why we're here is to have a child released to the mother so we can conduct our ceremonies'

June Deschamps says she's relieved she can now plan her daughter's funeral in Maskwacis after today's court ruling. (Sam Martin CBC News)
A First Nations mother was granted the right to her daughter's remains after a hearing in an Edmonton courtroom Wednesday.

"I'm very humbled, full of emotion," said June Deschamps, a member of the Louis Bull First Nation in Maskwacis.

She petitioned the Court of Queen's Bench after she learned her 23-year-old daughter, Danika Deschamps Yellowhorse, had died Saturday and the young woman's former foster mother intended to donate her organs and cremate her remains.

Both practices are contrary to Indigenous beliefs.

While going to court over her daughter's body was draining, Deschamps said it was a battle she needed to fight.

"I get to take my daughter home," she said. "It's been a long time coming."
Daughter's immune system compromised

The 50-year-old Deschamps said she placed Danika in foster care when she was four months old, because the girl's immune system was compromised and she had juvenile diabetes.

While it was a heartbreaking decision, she felt she had no choice because the community did not have the medical care the girl needed.

She had no contact with her daughter as a child, but the two reconnected three years ago, Deschamps said. Continue reading
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