Tasha Brown, a Vancouver Island mother, says she is preparing herself for an emotional reunion after European authorities located her daughter, who was allegedly abducted three years ago by Brown’s estranged wife.
Brown and her lawyer were speaking to reporters in Nanaimo Tuesday, ahead of Brown’s trip to attend a Hague Convention hearing to determine if her four-year-old daughter, Kaydance Page Etchells, can be brought back to Canada.
“I’m Kaydance’s other mother and I’m going to Jersey. I’m going to Jersey,” said an emotional Brown.
For nearly three years, Kaydance’s other parent, Brown’s estranged wife Lauren Ann Etchells, partner Marco van der Merwe, and their newborn son Marcus had evaded authorities in several European countries.
But on July 4, 2019, the Saanich Police Department announced Etchells and Kaydance had been found travelling in a dinghy in the English Channel on July 1, along with Marcus, and Etchells’ parents.
Police became suspicious when no one in the group had a passport.
Etchells, now 33, and her parents, both 67, were arrested for offences relating to child neglect and immigration offences and have pleaded guilty. A statement said Kaydance and Marcus were apprehended and placed into foster care as the case is “worked through.”
Kaydance was 19 months old when she was reported missing in 2016.
In May of that year, Etchells, then 31, allegedly defied a court order when she, van der Merwe, and their son boarded a WestJet flight from Vancouver to London’s Gatwick Airport with Kaydance.
Saanich police say Etchells disobeyed another court order in April 2016, by lying to Passport Canada to obtain another passport for Kaydance. Etchells had previously obtained a second birth certificate, showing her as Kaydance’s only parent, said police.
According to Brown’s lawyer Elisabeth Strain, a B.C. Supreme Court judge has declared Kaydance a “habitual resident” of Canada, and should be brought back to the country.
“This is a Canadian child. Tasha Brown is the custodial parent of Kaydance, and has been her guardian since birth. So there is no doubt about that,” said Strain.
Strain says Etchells remains in police custody in Jersey.
Brown said the next steps are complicated. She said laws in Britain don’t make explicit reference to same-sex parents. She is worried her relationship to Kaydance won’t be recognized.
“Strictly speaking I may not fall within the definition of parent in Jersey, even though I am a legal parent and guardian of Kaydance here in Canada.”
During Tuesday’s media event, Brown also spoke directly to Etchells, whom she married in 2013. The pair separated in 2015 after conceiving Kaydance through a donor process.
“I never wanted to take Kaydance away from you Lauren, and you know that,” she said. “We came in this together united and I just cannot understand why you felt the need to do this. And it wasn’t just to me, that’s the thing, it’s not just about me. The tsunami effect of this is incomprehensible.”