Local group reaches out to alienated grandparents, parents

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By Kelly Snider

AWARENESS. This may not be a topic which many in our community are aware of or have experienced, but sadly this is an issue that is taking place right here at home in the east-end, in our community. Grandparents are being alienated from their families, and getting their right to see their own children and grandchildren denied, leaving them in emotional turmoil and trying to understand this situation.

AGA Ottawa is free and anonymous. Anyone is welcome to attend the meetings.

This is exactly what has happened to one Orléans resident, who wishes to remain anonymous. In order to cope with their feelings and to understand more about why this could happen, they have started a group to reach out to the community, and connect with others who may be in the same situation.

"Many know of someone going through this, but no one wants to talk about it," they said. "It's a really huge problem. It is like depression and other forms of mental health issues used to be before mental illness became de-stigmatized."

They decided to form the group "Alienated Grandparents Anonymous (AGA) Ottawa" because there was nothing in the city, where those who have been alienated from their families, could go and talk about it.

"There was nothing like it in Ottawa. But the group is reflected in numbers. We started with nobody, and now we have over 20 participants."

Kim Craitor, a lawyer-politician from the Niagara Falls area, drafted a Grandparents Rights Bill in 2012. At the time, Craitor estimated that there were 75,000 grandparents in Ontario alone being denied access to their grandchildren.

"That's a large number," said the grandparent. "And I bet it is even bigger now."

They said an adult child estranging themselves from their parents happen for many different reasons. Some of those include a parent's divorce which ended on bad terms, unresolved childhood issues, drug addiction, the adult child’s spouse or partner’s influence and mental illness. “My family was normal and then suddenly it is not."

AGA Ottawa is a group that comes together to help one another by sharing and discussing strategies, finding resources in the communities, and being an open ear to listen.

They meet the 1st and the 3rd Wednesday of every month, at 7 p.m., at the Manoir Portobello.

The group is free and anonymous.

For more information, you can visit their website at www.agaottawa.weebly.com.

Organizations: Grandparents Rights Bill, Manoir Portobello

Geographic location: Ottawa, Orléans, Niagara Falls Ontario

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