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BC Institution Survivors Asked To Prove Abuse Claims

by Dave Reynolds (subscribe)

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--For decades, children and adults with developmental disabilities suffered horrific sexual and physical abuse while housed in British Columbia's Woodlands School, until it was shuttered in 1996.

Four years ago, the provincial government formally apologized for the residents' mistreatment, and announced a special fund for support and counseling.

The government's failure to provide any compensation to the abuse victims, however, prompted a group of them to take the government to court.

But a proposed deal recently hammered out between the survivors' attorney and the government is literally adding insult to their injuries, say members of the We Survived Woodlands Group.

The proposal would force those with claims of abuse to prove in court not only that the abuse took place -- which would be nearly impossible for many because they cannot speak, and records either were destroyed or never kept -- but also the level of abuse they endured. Certain forms of sexual abuse, for instance, would warrant more "points", and a larger compensation package, than others.

"They can stick it right where the sun don't shine," former resident Gary Hill told CTV about the proposal. "Because I'm damned if I'm going to go and drag up garbage from the past, again. I don't need it and what they're asking us to do is inhumane, totally inhumane."

The Children of Woodlands (CTV News)
Mother of a child with disabilities takes up the Woodlands cause (Williams Lake Tribune)
We Survived Woodlands Group

Copyright 2006 Inonit Publishing
Article reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express international disability rights news service. Please do not reprint, republish or forward without permission.