EDITOR’S NOTE: For the purpose of this article, names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved and their families.
TRURO, N.S. – At one point, Lana feared she might never see her grandchildren again. She was also afraid for their safety in a home with fighting and drugs.
“My daughter Tracey and her boyfriend sold and smoked weed, ordered take out and laid in bed a lot of the time,” she said. “They fought a lot and weren't very good housekeepers. They were arrested for having drugs and were evicted several times. Then there were home invasions, where drugs and money were taken. I said, these kids cannot keep living like this.”
When Lana tried to talk to her daughter about the dangers of her lifestyle, they ended up fighting and Tracey would ban her from seeing the children for a while.
“I was just beside myself and didn’t know where to turn,” said Lana.
She was unemployed at the time, so she went to Legal Aid and said she felt her grandchildren were in danger.
The situation wasn’t something Lana had ever expected when Tracey was in school, getting excellent grades and working part time. In late 2007 Tracey met Luke and shortly after, she dropped out of school. A few months later, at the age of 17, she announced she was pregnant.
Sarah was born in 2009 and, although Tracey and Luke had their own apartment, Lana helped out whenever possible. A second child, Jack, was born in 2011.
“When I had free time, I took the children to my house, the beach or movies,” said Lana. “They also went to daycare. It was good for them to get away from all that was going on at home.
“Tracey would get angry with me when I talked to her about things like cleaning up, and sometimes she’d make me leave.
“She wouldn’t let me go to Sarah’s seventh birthday party, and that broke my heart. I did buy gifts and have someone else take them to her.”
Tracey blew up at her mother the day she was served with family court papers, and Lana was not only blocked from seeing her grandchildren but couldn’t speak to them over the phone.
“I died a little every day I couldn’t see those kids,” she said. “I was always their soft place to land, and I was so worried.”
When she discovered the Grandparents’ Rights Association for Nova Scotia (GRANS), she found the emotional support she needed, as well as a valuable source of information.
Members were ready to share what they’d learned and Nattie Turner-Gerroir, executive director of GRANS, went to a court appearance with Lana.
She got an interim order to have the children with her every second Tuesday after school, but even that didn’t go smoothly.
“The first day I went to school with the court order I found the kids hadn’t been sent to school,” she said.
Things have improved enough that she’s able to see them every Tuesday, and Luke is now working and attending an anger management program.
Although she sees positive changes, Lana knows there’s still a long way to go
“I hope things never again get as bad as they were,” she said. “I just want everybody to get along and do the best for the kids. I’ve had a lot of difficult times in life, but the worst time was when I didn’t get to see my grandkids.
“Thank goodness for GRANS. The support I got there really helped me get through it.”
Group and one-on-one support provided
TRURO, N.S. – Although she’s not a grandparent, Nattie Turner-Gerroir is the executive director of the Grandparents’ Rights Association for Nova Scotia (GRANS).
The Bible Hill woman got involved in 2015, when she offered to do some online work for the group.
“The one thing I do the most, is empowerment,” she said. “We’re empowering people to have a voice for their grandchildren.
“People who’ve gone through such trials and tribulations are hard on themselves, but their story is an inspiration for others to come forward and get help. It does truly take a village.”
She said a lot of people don’t know what help is available, so GRANS helps them navigate the system and access support.
“A lot of issues are conflict related and our first priority is to help the family unit. Not all cases end up in court.”
Both group and one-on-one support is provided, and Turner-Gerrior would like to see more peer support taking place.
“Those who are feeling they don’t have anywhere to turn can reach out to us,” she said. “We’re a donation-based organization and everything is done for free.”
The group would also be happy to hear from anyone interested in volunteering.
Meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month, in the community room at the Robie St. Sobeys, from noon to 2 p.m. Support meetings are held in the evenings, and dates for those are announced in the Truro News Community Calendar.
GRANS can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 902-789-1378.