Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Montreal dad eager for reunion with young daughter found in B.C.

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 | 8:56 AM ET Comments83Recommend133

10-year-old Ashley Gonis. 10-year-old Ashley Gonis. (Family photo)

A Montreal father says news that his daughter has been found safe in Vancouver more than two years after her disappearance is like "a gift from God."

Frank Gonis said police told him Friday they had located his daughter, 10-year-old Ashley Gonis, at a SkyTrain station in the neighbourhood of East Vancouver.

"The police called me on Friday early in the morning and it was like, I don’t know, a gift from God. It's amazing that she’s safe," he said.

Ashley disappeared in January 2007, along with Gonis's ex-wife, after a parental dispute that he says ended with him being awarded sole custody of the girl.

When she surfaced on Friday, police said Ashley told them she had run away from an "abusive situation at home" and walked for hours before making a 911 call.

Gonis said he can't imagine what her home life has been like since she disappeared from Montreal more than two years ago.

"The information I’ve gotten is there is a lot of work to be done with her … a lot of brainwashing to cut through … but hopefully it will be all for the best," he said. "She is still young. There is time for her to recover."

Gonis said he wanted to fly to Vancouver the same day he heard the news, but was waiting to get his legal paperwork in order before going to B.C.

"I want to make sure I got all my ducks in a row so I don’t go there and end up having to fight social services to get my daughter back," he said.

Ashley was placed in the care of the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development after being found.

Gonis said he's ready to give Ashley whatever help and support she needs.

"I just want her home, you know, and then whatever comes up, we’ll deal with it then, you know," he said.

Ashley was listed as a missing child due to parental abduction on the website of Enfant-Retour Quebec, a non-profit organization whose mission is to assist families searching for their missing children.

Frank Gonis made a public appeal for the safe return of his daughter after she and his ex-wife vanished, according to media reports.

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