N.S. to formally apologize to former Home for Colored Children residents
Published Wednesday, October 8, 2014 6:59PM ADT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 8, 2014 7:00PM ADT
CTV News has learned the province of Nova Scotia will offer a formal apology to former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children.
A source close to the files tells CTV News the apology will be made Friday afternoon at the Nova Scotia legislature.
It comes four months after the province reached a settlement with the former residents who claimed years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse by staff at the Halifax-area orphanage.
“Whenever they choose to do it, it will be hugely important for a lot of the residents,” says lawyer Ray Wagner, who represented the residents in a class-action lawsuit.
Wagner says, if an apology is made, it will erase 17 years of disbelief, doubt and questioning.
“It was denied by everybody and so there was a lot of questions circulated around whether they were being truthful or not,” says Wagner.
The premier’s office declined to comment on the matter on Wednesday.
About 140 former residents were part of the original class-action lawsuit against the province and the home. A $5-million settlement was reached with the home last year and the provincial government announced a $29-million lump settlement in June.
This won’t be the first time the province has offered such an apology.
Former Nova Scotia premier Darrell Dexter offered an apology and pardon to Viola Desmond in 2010, 60 years after the African-Nova Scotian woman was fined and jailed for sitting on the ground floor of a movie theatre in New Glasgow.
In 2013, former justice minister Ross Landry apologized to the alleged victims of Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh. The Cape Breton businessman was convicted of multiple sex charges against four boys in the 1970s. His conviction was eventually overturned because of the delay in bringing him to trial.
Wagner says money from the settlements will soon be transferred to the claims administrator, a third party who will follow the settlement agreement and distribute funds to class members.
“There are a few releases that have to be signed from one of the lawyers for the Children’s Aid Society,” he explains. “We anticipate that will be done today. If that is done today, then the transfer of funds will be taking place on Friday.”
More than 300 people could receive some sort of compensation from the settlement. The deadline to make a claim is Feb. 27, 2015.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster