WINNIPEG - A child custody battle begins Monday for two children whose parents are accused of teaching them that black people and other minorities deserve to die.

In a court hearing scheduled to run all week, Manitoba Child and Family Services is applying for guardianship of a girl and boy who were seized from their home last year after the girl showed up at her elementary school with symbols used by white supremacists drawn on her body.

The government agency is worried about the "psychological impact upon the children stemming from the (parents') acute hatred for other people," according to an affidavit filed by the lead social worker in the case.

The boy's father, meanwhile, is fighting back, saying the seizure of his children violates his freedom of conscience, belief and association under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"I believe that there is no legal basis for the children having been apprehended," the man, who is also the girl's stepfather, wrote in the affidavit.

The case has garnered international attention and sparked debate over how far parents can go to instil beliefs in their children. The parents and children cannot be identified under provincial law.

Authorities were called last year after the girl showed up at school with symbols and phrases used by white supremacists inked on her body.

The girl later told social workers that she had learned about how people can be killed and that "black people just need to die because this is a white world", the affidavit says. The girl was also told by her mother not to have any non-white friends or she would not have a mother anymore, according to the document.

The children's mother has not yet responded to the allegations in court documents. In an interview last year with The Canadian Press, she denied being a neo-Nazi and called herself simply a "proud Scottish chick."

She defended the Nazi swastika, saying it stems from an ancient symbol for prosperity.

The allegations of racism are not the only concern for child welfare workers. The couple is also accused of abusing drugs and alcohol, physically abusing each other and failing to provide adequate care for their kids.

The girl missed many days of school because her parents wanted to sleep in, and frequently had to remind her stepfather to change her brother's diaper, according to the social worker's affidavit. The boy's language development is delayed, the worker wrote.

The father denies those accusations as well.

"In my opinion, both (the mother) and I were excellent parents," he wrote.