Community Living Mississauga would like to congratulate the individuals who formerly resided at the Huronia Regional Centre, pursued justice and secured a settlement with government for the harm done to them during the years they lived at the facility.
Our organization, along with similar associations across the province, have advocated for the government to recognize the injustice suffered by people who had an intellectual disability and were sent away from their communities to government-run institutions over many decades.
The case was settled with $35 million with maximum settlements of $42,000 for each person. The value of each individual settlement will be determined on a point system based on harm experienced.
“While no amount of money can change the past, we hope that this settlement helps bring some closure to the hundreds of individuals who lived through decades of institutionalization,” says Keith Tansley, Executive Director at Community Living Mississauga.
As part of the settlement, the Government of Ontario will issue an apology to the individuals who lived at the facility.
“The apology was an important element of the settlement for the individuals who were institutionalized at Huronia Regional Centre,” explained Tansley. “Each person finally has official recognition of the harm that was done to them while they were living at the institution.”
Also included in the settlement is an agreement to finally create a registry listing the hundreds of people buried in the Huronia Regional Centre graveyard and an agreement to properly maintain that site over time. Current graves are without name markers or may only have a number over their grave. This is a sign of respect for those who died in the institution, honours those who are gone and will bring comfort to all who have friends and family buried there.
Community Living Mississauga supports more than 2300 individuals who have an intellectual disability, many of whom previously lived at the Huronia Regional Centre. Each of these men and women now have a better quality of life because they are living in their homes, are active members of their communities, and are more connected with friends and family.
In a letter published in the Toronto Star on September 22nd, Lisa Hulet, whose brother lived at the Huronia Regional Centre, explained the changes in her brother’s life since he left the facility and began receiving support from Community Living Mississauga:
I am a sibling of one of the former residents of the Huronia Regional Centre. My brother lived there from approximately 1960-2008. He is mute and is unable to share with us what he experienced. My parents tried everything they could for 10 years until they couldn’t manage anymore with three other children and had him committed in 1960. They were told this was the best thing for everyone. It was a scary place to visit as a child and my parents visited as often as they could. He was locked in a ward where there was lots of screaming and it always smelled.
Today at 55 years of age I can still see it, hear it and smell it. I will be forever grateful to the worker who told me in the early 1990s that my brother needed to get out of the ward. It was making him sick and so stressed. He had a duodenal ulcer that burst and the surgeon was very concerned that no one had seen or observed how much pain he was in.
My parents were old and it was now my turn to get involved. We got him into an apartment-style living program that was on the grounds. It was marginally better. After many years of advocacy and with the help of some fabulous people, he has a new home with Community Living Mississauga and he is enjoying the quality of life he deserves. This is a dream come true.
I am haunted by what my beloved brother may have experienced and I am determined he will enjoy a quality of life for the rest of his life. I am grateful to the former residents who had the courage to take this action. May a Huronia type of institution never be needed again.