Filing seeks $500gs for Que. abused youth
Montreal — after learning she was being transferred from one Quebec government-run youth centre to another, eleanor Lindsay finally felt a rare sense of hope.
at the Maison Notredame-de-laval centre, where she had been placed after a traumatic childhood, the 13-year-old was often confined to a small cell in the basement. It was equipped only with a thin foam mattress on a cement box and a steel toilet visible to the men guarding her.
She hoped being moved to Marian Hall, another provincially run centre in beaconsfield, would bring better conditions. but as she would find out, the culture of abuse she suffered in Laval was not isolated to one centre.
More than 40 years later, Lindsay, 59, is now the lead plaintiff in a new class-action request seeking compensation for all children who spent time in the centres. It argues their lives were crippled by rampant abuse — including solitary confinement, sexual assault and arbitrary medication — while under government care.
“If it had happened to only one child, it would have been a tragedy,” Lev alexeev, the lawyer behind the request, said on Friday.
“but from what we know right now, it happened to thousands and thousands of kids over several years. “It’s overwhelming.” Filed this week in Montreal, the class action will seek at least $500,000 in damages from the province for each member, without yet considering the compensation for punitive damages. It names more than 70 centres across Quebec.
the abuse taking place in the centres, known as reception centres at the time, was revealed in a series of articles published by the Montreal Gazette in early 1975.
the articles led to an inquiry, known as the batshaw report, that confirmed children were being detained for unacceptable reasons.
In one case, it found a girl had been placed in solitary confinement for 21 days.
the request needs to be approved by a judge before moving ahead. alexeev said it’s been impossible to pinpoint exactly when the abusive practices started and when they ended, meaning there could be a significant difference between class members’ ages today.