Members of Lev Tahor arrived at Piarco International Airport yesterday and have refused to leave, an immigration officer at the airport told CBC News.
The two families were scheduled to appear in a Chatham-Kent, Ont., court today to learn the result of their appeal to an earlier court judgment demanding the children be returned to Quebec and placed in foster care.
Stephen Doig of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services said his agency has alerted sister agencies with offices along the Canada-U.S. border after visits to the families’ homes in southern Ontario turned up empty-handed.
Last month, an Ontario judge upheld a Quebec ruling ordering 14 children in the Lev Tahor sect to be surrendered to child welfare authorities. After being denied an appeal by a Quebec court, the group issued a request for appeal to an Ontario court.
This came after the Quebec and Ontario provincial police forces raided the Lev Tahor homes in Chatham.
Quebec’s Youth Protection Services alleged in court that children living in the sect were medicated with melatonin to control their behaviour, couldn’t do basic math and were married off as young as 14.
The Lev Tahor sect, which totals about 200 people, packed up and moved to Chatham in November 2013 after failing to appear in a St-Jérôme, Que., courthouse for a hearing meant to ensure child welfare officials had regular access to the children.