Other evidence supporting mother's primary care outweighed race, culture considerations
The Alberta Court of Appeal has ruled that a father’s ability to help a child navigate racial issues does not outweigh other evidence supporting the child remaining in the mother’s primary care.
In St. Pierre v Brown, 2022 ABCA 24, Brown and St. Pierre lived together in a common law relationship. They had one child who, after their separation, lived with her mother, St. Pierre. Both parties entered into a consent order providing Brown with parenting time, but because of acrimonious nature of their relationship, a mutual no-contact order was later issued. St. Pierre filed a mobility application in 2020 as she was moving to Cornwall, Ont., which was granted. Brown appealed, alleging that the order was not in the best interest of the child and that the trial judge failed to give adequate weight to issues relating to race, culture, and heritage.
The appellate court disagreed, finding that it was evident to the trial judge that both parents played a vital role in the child’s life.
As to the weight of racial and cultural factors, the trial judge engaged the importance and relevance of the father’s Jamaican heritage and his ability to help navigate his child through issues relating to her racial identity, said the court.
St. Pierre did not dispute Brown’s importance in their child’s life, but this issue was multi-faceted, said the court, which noted St. Pierre’s testimony on her own French-Canadian heritage and desire to have the child learn French as well as participate in French activities in Cornwall.
Ultimately, the trial judge ruled that “the father’s ability to help the child navigate racial issues in particular did not outweigh the other evidence supporting the child remaining in the mother’s primary care,” said the appeal court. The trial judge also noted that St. Pierre was willing to provide Brown generous parenting time and make it “as accessible as possible.”
The appeal was dismissed.