The NDP was looking to put an exclamation point on a busy opening day of the provincial election campaign.
Instead, their kick-off rally was uprooted by a Somali couple accusing Child and Family Services of keeping their kids away from them.
Not two minutes after Greg Selinger took the stage, he was disrupted by a woman who eventually got up on the stage to get her message out.
“My children are suffering! I come here for humanity! Where is the humanity? I want to get my children back!” the woman, who identified herself after as Farhia Gelle, exclaimed to the roughly 200 party supporters at the Sturgeon Heights Community Centre. “CFS has taken my children and my children are dying! People, I need help!”
As this was going on, Selinger stood by their side, helplessly waiting for his chance to interject. But the woman would not relent.
“Please, Canadian people! I need my kids back. I need help. I ran from Somali for safety of my child. Please! Please!”
Despite the best efforts of Selinger and a party worker, Gelle carried on like this for nearly four minutes before the crowd started drowning her out with chants of “N-D-P! N-D-P!” The couple then started yelling back “No N-P-D! No N-P-D”, no doubt a language barrier issue, but they did so while giving the thumbs down to the crowd.
“NDP is a problem. CFS is a big problem. How come we don’t see our children in six years?” said Guled Farah, Gelle’s husband, after the rally concluded. “They lied to us, again, again, again. We want our voice to be heard. They tried to shut us down.”
This is the same couple that interrupted Mayor Brian Bowman at January’s Embracing Diversity event. The couple says that Bowman did talk with them after and deferred them to the Premier.
Gelle says their problems started a number of years ago, after her then two-year-old daughter had an accident and she was taken to the hospital.
“CFS, they see my daughter, and after six days they change the deadline, they say, ‘We want to take all the children.’ I had one boy at home and I was pregnant. They took my son, healthy child.”
Selinger claims that the government is doing all they can to help the family out.
“We live in a democracy. People have a right to express themselves, and if they see a venue like this with lots of media, to get their message out, I respected that. At the same time, I offered them some support, and we have been doing that, and we will continue to do that. Obviously, I can’t give you the details of that, but we have been making very strenuous efforts to give them the support they need.”
The couple says they don’t care who wins the election, as long as they find a resolution to their problem.
“If we want our kids to come back, Canadian people have to hear our history,” Farah explained. “Otherwise nobody would ever know. Nobody would ever care.”