The battle rages on
Local woman continues to fight for her children

Sarah Holland
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 14/00) - Roberta Vaneltsi's almost six-year battle for custody of her children continues, and not without a little frustration.

Her two children, Roman and Petra, have now lived in the Czech Republic for almost six years, after leaving for a one-year stay, according to Vaneltsi.

"In the beginning we had joint custody, but now the kids' father has custody in his country, and in Canada I have interim custody -- if they were here I would have custody based on the fact that he didn't follow the original agreement."

Vaneltsi says she doesn't know why the kids haven't been returned.

"To me, it's wasting my time talking to him; his mind is already made up. He says the children are happy and he is instilling in them the values and culture of his country.

"My son seems well-adjusted, but my daughter keeps telling me she wants to come home. What can I tell her? It's frustrating to have to keep telling her to be patient."

Vaneltsi, who has been doing a lot of research, is not out of options yet though, and her most recent connection includes the United Nations.

"I wrote a letter to a U.N. rep in Hobbema, Alberta, named Willie Littlechild. I wanted his opinion as to the best way to approach this," said Vaneltsi with a sigh.

"He said the Czech Republic is a hard place to deal with."

Vaneltsi also spoke with a child-care worker recently, after hearing tales of poor treatment, by the father, from her daughter. The information will be sent to Ottawa, and Vaneltsi hopes someone will get the chance to talk to her daughter without the father present.

"I also talked to a lawyer from Toronto who deals with this kind of thing," said Vaneltsi. "He would want $350,000 up front."

When asked if money makes a difference in legal matters, Vaneltsi replied, "If I had a million dollars, I would have had my kids back a long time ago.

"I want my life to move on and not be tied to legal aid and care workers."

But most of all, Vaneltsi just wants her children.