Inquiry demanded into alleged abuse at Dartmouth home
Former residents say throne speech promise doesn't go far enough
Former residents at Nova Scotia’s Home for Colored Children say they want a full public inquiry into the physical and sexual abuse they suffered at the orphanage.
On Tuesday during his Speech from the Throne, Premier Darrell Dexter said he would put together an independent panel, allowing former residents to speak publicly about their experiences into abuse allegations at the former home.
"So what we’re looking for is a mechanism where we can actually bring people back together, so a method of reconciliation, a mechanism for healing," said Dexter.
However, some former residents said they are not satisfied and that they have had enough of telling their stories.
For years, former residents have been trying to persuade the provincial government to listen to their claims of physical, sexual and mental abuse by staff at the orphanage.
They say it lasted several decades until the home shut down in the 1980s.
Former resident Tracey Dorrington-Skinner said the panel isn’t enough and refuses to take part.
"What is us publicly telling you again that we’ve been abused, that we’ve been raped, that we’ve been beaten … for what purpose? There’s nothing in there stating anything about ‘That’s going to be the healing process for us,’" said former resident Tony Smith.
The Home for Colored Children opened in 1921 as an orphanage for black Nova Scotian children.
Last March, RCMP formed a special investigative team to look into abuse allegations and asked people to come forward.
Forty complainants came forward, who are now living in several provinces including Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. The team visited the witnesses in each location.
In December, the RCMP said the evidence collected was not enough to support criminal charges.
Following the throne speech, leaders of the opposition parties came out of the house shaking their heads as well.
"I’m disappointed," said Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie. "Why should they expect anything less than others have had in the same circumstances here in Nova Scotia and across the country?"
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil shared similar sentiments.
"What we wanted was a full public inquiry so that we could get behind what has happened at this institution and allow our province to begin to heal," he said.
A class action lawsuit involving more than 100 former residents is scheduled to resume this week in a Halifax court.
The home is currently a short-term centre for foster children of all races and cultures. The home also provides outreach services to vulnerable families in the African Nova Scotian community.
According to the home's website, the main funding for the centre comes from the province's Department of Community Services. Additional funding comes from the home's annual telethon and donations from the community