In 2013, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne apologized to the former residents of the Huronia Regional Centre (HRC).
If you want to keep a future premier from having to apologize again, listen to those surviving former residents.
That was the message from advocates of the HRC’s survivors, developmentally-challenged adults who were sent to live at the former “asylum for idiots.”
“What a terrible and disgusting name,” said Yvonne Spicer, past chair of the Ontario Community Living council, an advocacy collective made up of adults in the province with intellectual disabilities. “It was a name that showed total disrespect and hatred of all people with intellectual disabilities. As terrible as the name was, the place was even worse.”
She was one of the 17 deputants included in the more than 75 people who showed up for the first of two sessions on the future of the former Huronia Regional Centre (HRC) on Thursday. While she said it wasn’t her place to explicitly suggest what to do with the buildings, she knew what she’d want to see if it was.
“It is your last chance to finally do the right thing,” Spicer said. “In my words: blow it up.”
Everything from demolition to re-purpose is on the table as Lura Consultants prepares a report to the provincial government on the 175 acres of property on Lake Simcoe declared surplus. The consulting group called the meetings to help shape its recommendation as to what the province should do next.
But to get there, Spicer and many other advocates for the survivors reminded both the consultants and the participants in the room of the history of the HRC, and how its legacy can cloud nearly everything that could…
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