British Columbia

Apology for former Woodlands' residents

The B.C. government has formally apologized to former residents of Woodlands in New Westminster and other government institutions in Victoria, Kamloops and Creston.

The B.C. government has formally apologized to former residents of Woodlands in New Westminster and other government institutions in Victoria, Kamloops and Creston.

A report last year by former B.C. ombudsman Dulcie McCallum uncovered allegations of abuse of residents by staff at Woodlands going back 50 years.

The Minister for Children and Family Development, Gordon Hogg, says despite McCallum's report, police did not find enough evidence to lay charges.

Hogg says the government is not acknowledging any abuse. But the apology does say people were harmed by their time in institutional care.

"The institutional model which we now recognize as flawed, created a depersonalized environment," he says. "This led to mistreatment of some unfortunate people."

Hogg not only apologized, but has also set up a $2-million trust fund to provide support and counselling for the former residents and their families.

The families of several former Woodlands residents are pursuing a class action lawsuit against the government.

Jo Dickey of West Vancouver says her son was abused during his 12 years at Woodlands. She says she and other families are looking for more than an apology and an offer of counselling.

"They're looking for some compensation because there was an extensive amount of abuse in the institution because of systemic problems," she says.

The B.C. Association for Community Living's executive director, Laney Bryenton, says the minister has not gone far enough in addressing what residents suffered – or the betrayal their families felt after entrusting their care to others.