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Isolated care system ill-equipped to deal with Halifax orphanage abuse: report

Tony Smith, left, a former resident, and Pamela Williams, chief judge of the provincial and family court, discuss an interim report from the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children Restorative Inquiry, in Halifax on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

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

Inquiry co-chairwoman Pamela Williams says it’s an idea that has consistently emerged as the inquiry has conducted its work over the last three years.

Williams, who is chief judge of the provincial and family courts, says there must be fundamental changes in the way agencies operate to create “stronger trusting relationships” with the community at large.

Co-chairman Tony Smith, a former resident of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, says “silos” have to be broken down within a care system that is not designed to address the unique needs of the African Nova Scotian community.

A report released by the inquiry in January also pointed to a culture of silence and shame that contributed to the abuse at the home.

Friday’s interim report precedes the inquiry’s final report, which is expected in the spring.

The restorative inquiry is made up of former residents of the orphanage, community members and the provincial government.

Launched in late 2015, it has a mandate to examine the experiences of former residents and systemic discrimination and racism throughout the province.


The Canadian Press