MONTREAL – Youth protection officials are seeking information about a group of children who are back in Quebec after living in Arizona with the followers of a self-styled guru.
A spokeswoman says the 10 children, who range in age from two to seven, remained in the custody of the province’s youth protection branch on Thursday after being returned earlier in the week.
“They were tired and exhausted, but were in good health,” said Emmanuelle Choiniere, who works at a youth centre south of Montreal.
The children’s current whereabouts is being kept confidential, but Choiniere added it’s a secure location where they have access to social workers and psychologists.
“We’ve launched an appeal to anyone who can provide us with information, but we don’t know where their parents are,” she said.
“There are brothers and sisters in the group, but (from) how many different families, I can’t say.”
The children were part of a group of 12 who were intercepted by Canadian border services officials near Vancouver on Monday.
The group, accompanied by two adults, was apparently headed into Canada from the United States.
“They arrived at customs, but without their parents,” Choiniere added.
She said two of the children stayed behind in British Columbia with their father and are being looked after by social services.
The self-styled guru, Marcel Pontbriand, took refuge in a small town in Arizona in 2009 with dozens of Quebecers and some children.
The former businessman from Beloeil, Que., was the head of a cult that allegedly separated children from their parents.
Two of the 14 children connected with the cult are still missing.