N.S. gov't pulls out of NSHCC hearings over media attendance
Opening of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, Preston, N.S., June 6, 1921. (Photo courtesy: Helen Creighton)
Published Tuesday, February 19, 2013 6:39PM AST
Hearings scheduled to take place in the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children case have been cancelled.
Former residents travelled long distances to take part in the hearings scheduled for this week and next week, but the Nova Scotia government has pulled out after hearing media planned to attend the hearings.
June Elwin was among the residents hoping to share their stories of abuse at the out-of-court examination hearing.
“I’d lie flat down on the floor while the matron would just beat me with a broomstick, and this went on many a times,” she says.
Lawyers representing the former residents say the province doesn’t want media to attend the hearings.
“I mean, if they didn’t want cameras or whatever the case may be, then fine, just say that,” says former resident Harriet Johnson. “Don’t take off running like a scared dog with your tail between your legs.”
Rachel Boomer, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Justice Department, says the hearings were originally planned to take place in a private boardroom.
She also says department officials were concerned about inconveniencing former residents involved in the hearings, so they were contacted right away.
“Once our lawyers found out about that they notified the other parties on Wednesday, again on Thursday, again on Friday, and then again on Monday,” says Boomer. “Both emails, letters and voicemails.”
The lawyer involved with the proposed class-action lawsuit says he doesn’t see any harm in media being there
“The public has to have access, otherwise it loses its confidence in our judicial system to be fair and reasonable,” says lawyer Ray Wagner.
Wagner says that after a discussion with the judge this morning, it has been decided the cross-examinations will be held in court at the end of March and early April, which means anyone who wishes to attend can, including media.
More than 140 former residents of the home are part of the proposed suit, alleging years of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse at the orphanage.
Details on a settlement with the home are expected soon, which still leaves the province named in the suit.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster