Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Fractured Care System Ill-Equipped to Deal with Abuse at Halifax Orphanage

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Fractured Care System Ill-Equipped to Deal with Abuse at Halifax Orphanage

Article excerpt

Fractured system part of abuse at orphanage


HALIFAX - A new report from an ongoing public inquiry into decades of abuse at a Halifax-area orphanage says a fragmented system of care wasn't equipped to address the needs of children who were vulnerable.

The interim report, released Friday by the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children Restorative Inquiry, says the story of the home illustrates a social system that works in isolation.

"Across the many sessions of the inquiry, participants acknowledged that social systems failed to provide the support and care that children and young people in the home required and deserved," says the report.

"This included the failure to properly protect former residents and respond to experiences of abuse and neglect. They recognized that current systems and structures remain ill-equipped to fully respond to people's needs."

Inquiry co-chairwoman Pamela Williams , who is chief judge of the provincial and family courts, said people's experiences that pointed to shortcomings within the system consistently emerged as the inquiry conducted its work over the past three years.

"There is an absolute need to build stronger trusting relationships as we move forward and make better and lasting changes for the future," she said.

The report also says the system's inability to connect with the black community complicated a relationship that was already overlaid with overt and systemic racism.

The Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children opened in 1921 and was initially seen as a "significant achievement" by the African Nova Scotian Community. The institution looked after children who weren't accepted by the Protestant and Roman Catholic orphanages of the time.

More than 3,000 people turned out to celebrate the opening of a home that would eventually see more than 1,000 children live there over its lifespan.

"This is not a simple story of bad individuals or bad intentions," said Jennifer Llewellyn, a member of the inquiry council and a professor at Dalhousie University's Schulich School of Law. …

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