Child welfare authorities have removed children from about 15 families in a small Mennonite community in rural Manitoba.
Only one minor, a 17-year-old, remains in the community after three men and a woman were charged with multiple counts of assault, including assault with a weapon.
One of the men is facing eight counts of assault and 10 counts of assault with a weapon. The woman charged is facing five counts of assault with a weapon and four counts of assault.
Court documents alleged the assaults took place between July 2011 and Jan. 31 of this year, and involved the use of cattle prods and straps.
All four adults charged have been released from RCMP custody on bail, but none of the accused can have contact with anyone under the age of 18 without approval from child welfare officials.
The four are scheduled to appear in a Dauphin court in September.
The Brandon Sun is reporting the number of children seized from the community was higher than 50.
The court has placed a publication ban on the names of the children involved, which is why CBC News is not identifying the community or providing the names of the adults charged.
Officials from Manitoba’s Child and Family Services department said child protection professionals are working with the families and children involved. Officials said counselling services and support are being made available while the RCMP investigated.
CFS officials also said they are working to secure “culturally sensitive” placements for the children who were removed from the community.
Brad Reimer, who works with the Mennonite Central Committee, said the child welfare agency has had contact with the community twice in the past. Once when they first arrived in Manitoba and again more recently.
"They did approach us when some of this current situation came to light," said Reimer. "MCC did meet with them and offered to work with them on certain aspects of parenting."
Reimer would not say if the community took MCC up on its offer.