Former orphanage resident shares story of abuse
Cora Giroux only spent about a month at the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children about 25 years ago, but she says she will never forget her experience at the orphanage.
Published Friday, January 11, 2013 1:43PM AST
Last Updated Friday, January 11, 2013 1:44PM AST
More allegations of abuse at the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children are surfacing – this time from a young woman who wasn’t a resident of the home for very long.
More than 25 years have passed since Cora Giroux was placed at the orphanage.
She was only there for about a month, but she says she has never forgotten the abuse she experienced at the home.
“The screaming that I heard and the hits and the slaps I endured, and the name calling,” she describes. “It just plays in my mind.”
Giroux says she was 13 years old at the time and had been moved around from foster home to foster home.
She claims she was constantly bullied at the home and was a victim of both physical and mental abuse, mainly by staff, but by some residents too.
“From the day I walked in I was petrified,” she says. “I tried to be friends with some of them there and I got beaten, and the staff members, they just overlooked it because they did it to me.”
Ray Wagner, the lawyer representing more than 140 former residents taking part in a proposed class-action lawsuit, says there are other white people who are part of the claim.
He says the case has always been about systemic abuse.
“It was something that was promoted, unfortunately, within the home and it continued and it was experienced certainly by the Caucasian people when they were in the home as well,” he says.
The home’s current executive director, Veronica Marsman, claims she was not aware of the abuse at the orphanage in court documents filed this week.
The lawyer for the home argues there are no common issues in the complaints, and nothing that should result in a class action.
The RCMP wrapped up its investigation into the abuse allegations last month and announced criminal charges would not be laid in the case.
There have been calls for a public inquiry into the allegations, but there is still no word from the provincial government on whether one will take place.
Giroux would like to see a public inquiry, but plans to take part in the proposed class action for now.
“I want them to hear me that they’re not alone, that the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children did not do their job.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster
Opening of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, Preston, N.S., June 6, 1921. (Photo courtesy: Helen Creighton)