Each year babies die as a result of being abandoned by moms and/or dads whose own trauma, trials or unfortunate lives put them in desperate situations. The tragedy is that most are not found in time and a precious life is taken. ‘This is the earliest form of abuse’, says Ellen Campbell, CEO and Founder of Abuse Hurts. Their short lives, abruptly ended without dignity or even a name, was like a painful cry heard by Ellen who had agonized about the fate of these unclaimed babies, buried in unnamed graves. View a CTV News piece here.
Four Abandoned Babies That Were Buried February 27, 2018
For years, she had dreamed of finding a better way to treat these children in their final internment. Finally, with the discovery of yet two more babies in 2007, she felt compelled to actively do something and Ellen Campbell approached Ontario’s Deputy Chief Coroner, Dr. Jim Cairns, Elgin Mills Cemetery, and The Simple Alternative Funeral Centre. All of them agreed to Ellen’s plan: Dr. Cairns would release the babies’ bodies to the Elgin Mills Cemetery who donated 9 plots (enough to bury 45 babies), a beautiful monument and bench where people can sit for a moment of contemplation. The Simple Alternative Funeral Centre agreed to provide the memorial services and ABUSE HURTS would administer the program.
So, the first service became a reality on Friday, October 12th at the Elgin Mills Chapel located at the Elgin Mills Cemetery in Richmond Hill where two abandoned babies were finally laid to rest by the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness. Baby Leif, a newborn whose partially decomposed remains were found in the woods near North Bay, and Baby Kintyre, another newborn, whose mummified remains were discovered beneath the floorboards of a Toronto home, were named and honoured in a service open to the public.
Since then, more babies have been laid to rest at Elgin Mills Cemetery, Crematorium and Visitation Centre. Other babies laid to rest there include Baby Max, Baby Sun, and Baby Heathrow and Baby Richards.
Baby found still alive in Halifax, in October, 2017
Abuse Hurts will receive abandoned babies from anywhere in Canada, give them a name and memorialize the babies with a proper service and burial through the Huggum’s Hope Memorial program. There have been requests from the RCMP outside of Ontario to be allowed to access this service and Abuse Hurts is pleased to be able to help. “We are grateful for all the support received. The first funeral service and those services to come, and the permanent memorial will provide dignity for these babies and will show that “They matter and we care,” said Ellen Campbell.
In response to the existence of this program, Abuse Hurts has been working hard, advocating for legislation that would allow a mother in distress to surrender her unharmed newborn at a hospital without fear of being charged with abandonment. The success of this endeavour would save many lives. Over 2,000 babies have already been saved in the USA over the last 10 years because of ‘Safe Haven’ legislation. Many other countries around the world have adapted a safe-haven-type legislation of some sort to help save newborns from meeting untimely demise.
In 2009, a major proposal to provincial legislators is the Safe Haven Law that will allow a parent in distress to give over custody of a child in the first 72 hours of life to CAS, a hospital, church, police, fire department or other public safety organization without fear of reprisal or charges of abandonment. Ellen Campbell believes that this will go a long way to prevent the death of abandoned babies.
“Huggum’s Hope Memorial is one program that we would truly be happy to be able to do away with. Safe Haven is already law in every State in the U.S. as well as many countries in Europe. We, in Canada are lagging in affecting this legislation. Abuse Hurts is determined to see the legislation become a reality here as well.”
The Abuse Hurts’s voice has been a significant one in the progress thus far and it will continue to be as we work to keep Martin’s Hope alive.
“If I can help one person, it will all be worth it.” Martin Kruze
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