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Seeking support for shortchanged parents
After a decade in and out of court seeking child support, Ida Manuel is trying something different in what she hopes are the final stages of her legal odyssey.
On Saturday, Dec. 8, Manuel is staging a fundraiser in the Tk’emlups Indian Band’s Chief Louis Centre, aimed at raising enough capital for legal expenses in her child-support case.
But, the mother of one is hoping her efforts will have an effect beyond her family and spark a conversation about the difficulties low-income single parents face when trying to seek financial support.
“I’ve heard the stories from other parents and it’s so accepted — oh yeah, you can’t do anything about it, or can’t find him, or can’t prove that he’s working,” Manuel said.
“And, you would think there could be some sort of support or boost for people.”
Though she’s tried other avenues to get child support for her 10-year-old daughter, Anissa, Manuel said Legal Aid and Family Justice programs haven’t resulted in consistent financial aid from Anissa’s father.
When a family member helped connect her with a Kamloops lawyer, Manuel said her case started moving forward, but the money she pulled together to pay legal expenses is nearly depleted.
Thus, the fundraiser, which will feature baking and craft sales and a fashion show with a First Nations designer from Kelowna.
Manuel is also auctioning off her wedding dress, while Anissa has donated her dollhouse to the effort.
Manuel is expecting the event to generate some controversy — noting she has already experienced some online harassment from people who suggest she’s “exploiting” Anissa’s father.
But, Manuel countered, she simply wants her daughter to have the financial support she deserves — while looking for solutions for other families facing similar issues.
“I’m saying there’s this need because I can’t be the only one in my situation,” she said.
“I can’t be the only single parent that is seeking child support and there’s no help out there.”
If the fundraiser generates more money than she needs, Manuel would like to start a legal-expenses fund for other parents that could be expanded and grown over time.
She is also hoping others parents in similar situations will come forward and work together to support each other and find ways to address gaps in the system.
“We should be able to come up with someone,” she said.
“Why are we leaving it to a room full of politicians who have never met us?”
The fundraiser runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8.