Friday, April 25, 2014
Text Size

Class-action suit

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

A local woman is taking the lead in a $100 million class-action lawsuit that claims the province has systematically failed to protect the legal rights and claims of kids in care.

Holly Papassay became a Crown Ward when she was five. Over the next seven years she was moved through foster homes between Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay, where she suffered abuse and attempted sexual assaults.

In one home she was forced to watch as an older boy in care raped a neighbour.

Other foster parents locked her in a room with the windows nailed shut, starving and not able to go to the bathroom for hours at a time.

When she tried to tell Children's Aid about it, she said they called her a “problem child.”

"Nobody listened or did anything. I was labeled as a liar a troublemaker," she said.

As early as 1971, children who suffered abuse while in the Crown's care have been entitled to seek compensation and damages through the provincial Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. But no one ever told her that. As a child or an adult, she said.

"Even if I would have had some kind of counseling," Papassay said.

Toni Grann feels the same. Bouncing through foster care in Southern Ontario, before being placed with a family that she's still with to this day and credits for saving her life, Grann was raped in a home that led to a conviction.

Still, she was never offered any help. From counseling to post-secondary education, knowing there were ways to get that help would've gone a long way.

"It could have changed the course of my life," she said.

Papassay is now the lead in a class-action suit against the province that alleges Ontario breached its duty and failed to consider or take steps to protect and pursue the rights of Crown Wards.

Since 1966 when a child is considered a ward, the province assumes responsibility in the same way that a parent would. Watkins Law Professional Corporation and Toronto's Koskie Minsky are partnering to take the case on. Lawyer Sandy Zaitzeff said this suit, filed in Thunder Bay, will show that the problem is province-wide.

"Their stories are horrific, their stories are grotesque," he said. "What they went through no one should go through."

Since filing last week, Zaitzeff said he's heard from 30 people already who were wards and had similar experiences. He estimates there might be thousands more out there.

Papassay and Grann said the main reason the suit is out there is so that other children won't have to suffer the same way.

"When a child is telling you something's happening, listen," Papassay said.

"We hope that it will make the system change. That's all you can do," Grann said.

Zaitzeff estimates the suit will take around three years to be certified.

Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

Blast from the past: FP archive

When is Consultation, Consultation?

Write comment (7 Comments)

Ovide Mercredi

National Chief – AFN

During a Treaty Roundtable meeting of the Alberta Chiefs, I took note of a federal government document outlining their strategy to define and ultimately impose their own form of self-government. Read more...

Letting go of residential schools

Write comment (2 Comments)

by Gilbert Oskaboose, Nov 1993 First Perspective

There is a lot of "unfinished business" in Indian Country. Garbage that we as a people have never really dealt with. Chief among them is the whole issue of those infamous residential schools and their impact on people. Read more...

OBIDIAH

obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

EVENTS

April 2014
S M T W T F S
30 31 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 1 2 3
Mon Mar 31 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
NICE ‘Indian’ Trust Funds
Fri Apr 04 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
THE 21ST ANNUAL ABORIGINAL MIXED CURLING BONSPIEL

John Bigface

imageimageimageimageimage
cartoonscartoonscartoonscartoonscartoons

Current Video

Indigenous Writers Festival 2014 Opening Night

Write comment (0 Comments)

Chief Arlen Dumas Confronts NC Shawn Atleo

Write comment (2 Comments)

Employment