Angila Wilson was found dead in her home in Clearwater in April 2014. Her common-law husband, Iain Scott, was arrested after a seven-hour standoff with police at a home with the children inside, and has since been charged with her murder.
Leanne Bowcott said she and her husband Frank Wilson, Angila's brother, have been fighting ever since to gain custody of the children — aged three, six and seven.
"It's really hard to have someone else tell you you can't take care of your family," she said Thursday. "They need to be with their family, they need to settle and have a home."
Bowcott, who lives in Hope, said Wilson had promised his sister that he would take care of her kids if anything ever happened to her.
The couple is raising two children of their own and have provided respite care to other kids in the past.
But she said they haven't been able to gain custody, in part because the Ministry of Children and Family Development won't transfer the file to Hope from Clearwater.
Bowcott accused the ministry of questionable decisions and frustrating delays. For example, she said it took eight months for ministry staff to conduct a safe-home study on their residence.
To further complicate things, relatives of the accused are also seeking custody, Bowcott said.
Bowcott said Wilson was Metis and would have wanted her children to be raised by her brother to honour their aboriginal heritage.
Dey Stewart, Angila and Frank Wilson's aunt, said it took nine months before a consulting psychologist was able to meet with the children.
"It's grievous for us as a family, of course. We have the trauma of Angila's brutal murder, and then I would say we have been thoroughly traumatized by dealings with the ministry."
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s representative for children and youth, said there has clearly been a "breakdown" in this case.
Immediately following Wilson's death, responsibility to manage the placement of the children was shared between two ministries, and the ensuing confusion stalled the process, she said.
"We certainly can't condone what the ministry has done thus far, but we still think the ministry can do the right thing and place the children," she said.
Turpel-Lafonde said the children's Metis heritage is supposed be taken into account when they are being placed.
Children's Minister Stephanie Cadieux said the situation is tragic and difficult but that she could not comment on the specifics of a particular case.
"According to our legislation the paramount concern is the safety and well-being of the child," she said in a statement.
Doug Donaldson, the NDP's critic for Children and Family Development, is calling on the government to immediately place the children in permanent care with Bowcott and Wilson.
"Ultimately, the buck has to stop somewhere. I think the accountability stops at the minister's desk," he said. "She has the authority and resources to investigate these delays and to make public what the causes are."
— By Laura Kane in Vancouver
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