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W. Ross and the all too Familiar Narrative of Institutions

For those who may not be aware, a group of former students of the W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind (formerly the Ontario School for the Blind) in Brantford, Ontario have organized and are attempting to bring a class action lawsuit against the province of Ontario.

As detailed in this article from the Toronto Star, as many as 1000 former students could be affected, and the group is seeking $200 million in damages for acts of physical and sexual abuse that are said to have taken place from 1951 to the present.

There are allegations of visually impaired, blind and deaf-blind students being slapped, kicked, punched, forced to drink from a urinal, and made to eat their own vomit as punishment for throwing up — all at the hands of their teachers and staff.

These allegations have yet to be proven in court. It is unclear what the outcome of this effort will be, and this will likely not be known for many years

It's worth noting, though, that these are not the first instances of abuse of those living in institutions to come to light. This is not even the first time that an institution responsible for educating blind children in Canada has been involved in allegations of abuse.

In the 70s and 80s, disturbing stories began to emerge about Jericho Hill School (a residential school for blind and deaf students). Hundreds of former students represented in a class action lawsuit eventually settled for $12.5 million.

The resulting abuse when marginalized children are removed from their families and segregated in institutions has become a much too familiar narrative. My hope is that justice is done in this case, that victims of abuse are compensated, that mistakes are acknowledged and learned from, and that institutions are shut down and those housed in them supported to be in the community whenever possible.

Disclaimer:

This blog is curated by the AEBC, but welcomes contributions from members and non-members alike. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in the Blind Canadians Blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the AEBC, its members, or any of its donors and partners.

Comments

Hello

I am quite sure that this comment will be read by many Lawyers in the near future. We were made aware of the Toronto Star story by a Lawyer in Ont. by e-mail. We had no knowledge of other incidents with other chidren in the past until we read this story, nor were we aware of a possible Class Action Lawsuit starting. We believed that what happened to our child was isolated, we were wrong.

We are appalled of these alligations of abuse and gross mistreatment to the most innocent and most vulnerable of them all, special needs children. We hope and pray that their alligations can be supported. We have learned and know that in a Court of Law, it does not matter what one believes to be the truth, it is what you can prove.

The suffering of these chidren and what they indured and growing up with those pains is horrific. Shame on the Ont. Gov. and the W. Ross. MacDonald Scool.

We will not be joining this class action as we are not seeking just financial compensation, we are seeking Truth and Justice. We believe that there are outstanding Criminal matters that has to be addressed in a Criminal Court. We have direct undisputable evidence that proves Neglect, Negligence and Abuse, Purjury and much more yet to be revealed in an attempt to cover-up that is now partially exposed. Our problem is that we have Investigative Agencies that won't investigate allegations of Abuse and Indictable offences, even with evidence that supports those allegations, why? We believe that with the evidence we have in our possession warrants an Inquiry or at the very least a proper through Criminal Investigation be conducted by an outside Police Dept. that is thorough and completely impartial.

We have lost faith and trust with the Brantford Police Dept. and C.A.S Brant concerning issues surrounding our son.

It is not our place to decide what Laws & Acts have been violated but we are confident that there are many. It's a sad day when a family has to start a Civil Action to get a proper criminal investigation conducted, backwards, is it not?

August 25/2011 we wrote an open letter to the Editor. Please Google: Paul Salmonson Nunatsiaqonline Aug 25/2011

All we seek is the truth on behalf of our son. We put our trust and faith in the Honourable Courts to order what needs to be done and what we seek, Truth and Justice.

We are without counsel and a voice, we stand alone with no support and the only ones advocating for this child rights, this has to change.

Sincerely
Paul Salmonson