Fil­ing seeks $500gs for Que. abused youth

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS -

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.

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