Councillor complains of inaction in setting up registry for immigrant children

Elaine Biddersingh (left) and stepdaughter Melonie
Elaine Biddersingh (left) and stepdaughter Melonie

Toronto City Councillor Michael Thompson says he is disappointed that no concrete  action has yet been taken on his proposal for the establishment of a registry to document  the arrival of children entering Canada as immigrants.

In an interview on the weekend, the Jamaica-born councillor told The Caribbean Camera that he was still awaiting word from Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency about his proposal made back in 2012.

His comments came just a few days after Elaine Biddersingh was sentenced by a Toronto judge to life imprisonment  with no chance of parole for 16 years for the murder of her Jamaican-born teenaged stepdaughter, Melonie.

The body of the teenager was found in a burning suitcase in an industrial parking lot  north of Toronto in 1994 but was unidentified until 2011 when her stepmother  told a pastor that the girl had ” died like a dog” after being confined and denied food and medication.

After Melonie, her brother, Dwayne, and half-brother, Cleon, arrived in Canada from Jamaica  in 1991, they were never sent to school.

Dwayne  died in 1992. His death was ruled a suicide. His older half-brother, Cleon, who escaped from the abusive situation at home, is reported to be “building a new life.”

Last January, the girl’s father, Everton Biddersingh, was found guilty of first degree murder in his daughter death and sentenced to life imprisonment with no  chance of parole for 25 years.

His wife, Elaine,  was convicted last June of second-degree murder.

After the circumstances of Melonie’s death came to light,  Councillor Thompson tabled a motion in city council  calling for an investigation of immigrant children suffering abuse and had proposed the setting up of a system for children immigrating to Canada to be documented on arrival in the country.

He said the information  about the children should be made available to the local authorities such as the school boards in the areas where they would be expected to be attending school.

As Councillor Thompson explained, with his proposed system in place, the school boards would be able to make the necessary checks, if newly arrived children did not register in school.

Agencies at the federal, provincial and local levels have been in talks about the proposed registry, he said

Toronto Detective Sergeant Steve Ryan who supports the proposal for the setting up of the registry, said Melonie’s death could have been prevented.

“There is still nothing in place to enable us to check in on children who come from other countries. We have to stop this from happening again,” he said.

Elaine Biddersingh (left) and stepdaughter Melonie
Elaine Biddersingh (left) and stepdaughter Melonie