Running down the highway on a hot, sunny day, followed by a caravan of family, friends, and supporters, Richie Goosehead is an impressive sight. A boxer, artist, and carpenter, he is over six feet tall and weighed in at 274 lbs, that is until four of his children were taken by Child and Family Services. Since that day he says he cannot eat or sleep and has lost 50 kg.
He is obviously no stranger to a good fight. He grew up in Winnipeg’s North End and was diagnosed as dyslexic in a school system that offered very little support or resources. After moving with his family to Alberta in his late teens, Richie discovered a passion for boxing. He has been boxing ever since, even starting a boxing club when used to live in Edmonton. But this time, the fight won’t be inside the boxing ring.
Richie and his fiancée Nadine Fontaine’s four children were recently taken from them by Child and Family Services. Heartbroken, they consulted with the Legal Aid lawyer who was appointed to them, but he told them there was nothing he could do for them. Unwilling to give up, Richie and Nadine are seeking the help of a lawyer who is willing to fight for them, but this requires more money than they can afford, so they have decided to alternately walk and run from their Sagkeeng First Nation home to Winnipeg to raise both funds for a lawyer and to ensure the protection of all children.
It took four days for them to travel the 150 km to Winnipeg on foot and they raised $300 along the way, still short of their goal of $1,000, but they are hopeful that they will attain their goal as they reach Winnipeg and begin the long walk back home.
Richie’s mother, May, who has been a foster parent to many children over the last 20 years, is also on the journey to support her son. As a foster parent and as someone who grew up in a foster home, May acknowledges that some children do indeed benefit from foster care, but in Richie and Nadine’s case, their children belong at home.
As the nephew of Brian Sinclair, the man who died in the Health Sciences Centre’s emergency room this past September after waiting 34 hours without treatment, Richie knows how cold and impersonal this world can be. Richie and Nadine are obviously willing to do whatever it takes to get their children back, and judging from their determination and their crew of supporters, they have a good chance at getting their children back.