Duplessis Orphans: Apology and amends
During the reign of Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis in the 1940s and 1950s, an alarming number of healthy children living in sanctuaries were hastily diagnosed as mentally incompetent, psychotic patients. The diagnoses were always swift — the children went to bed orphans and woke up psychiatric patients. The reason? Shrewd fiscal planning; federal subsidies paid out more to hospitals than to orphanages. Some children allegedly endured lobotomies, electroshock, straitjackets and abuse. For the rest of their lives they would struggle to bring attention to their story and demand compensation. They called themselves the Duplessis Orphans.
• The Orphans also had to agree to drop any further legal continuations against the church as part of the package. Approximately 1500 of the Orphans qualified for compensation.
• "[The Duplessis Orphans] accepted the offer unanimously but with a very clear message, that even if this offer is insufficient, they are accepting it because they are reaching the ends of their lives." -- Bruno Roy in the Toronto Star, July 1, 2001
• Many of the Duplessis Orphans were excluded from the settlement. Only those who had been improperly diagnosed as mentally deficient were included in the offer.
• Gazette editorial writer Janet Bagnall criticized Landry's offer, arguing that the average Canadian criminal court award for sexual abuse was $250,000.
• Bagnall also took issue with Landry's narrow definition of who should receive compensation. "Sexually abused as a child in a religious institution? That doesn't count. Physically abused? No again. Exploited and denied an education while living in a religious institution wasn't enough, either, according to the government. The only people entitled to compensation were those who were wrongly labeled mentally deficient," Bagnall wrote in her Gazette editorial on Aug. 23, 2001.
• As of 2005, neither the Catholic Church nor the Quebec College of Physicians has acknowledged wrongdoing regarding the Duplessis Orphans' accusations.
Program: Canada Now
Broadcast Date: July 3, 2001
Guest(s): Bernard Landry, Bruno Roy
Reporter: Michel Godbout
Last updated: July 16, 2013
Page consulted on November 14, 2014
All Clips from this Topic
The Duplessis Orphans organize and protest some four decades after the...
The religious orders respond to charges of abuse.
Duplessis Orphans demand a public apology and prepare their class-acti...
The Duplessis Orphans publicly challenge the Catholic Church with thei...
Quebec premier offers an apology and compensation to the Duplessis Orp...
Quebec ombudsman Daniel Jacoby calls premier Bouchard's reconciliation...
When the church says it can only offer compassion, the Duplessis Orpha...
The Roman Catholic Church will not offer an apology or compensation fo...
A new drama about a Duplessis Orphan debuts.
Sixty-three high-profile Canadians file a petition in support of the D...
A Duplessis orphan and a five-year-old child form an unlikely partners...
The Duplessis Orphans at long last accept an offer of compensation.
The Duplessis Orphans demand a further investigation into alleged medi...
During the reign of Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis in the 1940s and ...