A recent settlement that put an end to a decade-long legal battle wasn’t in the best interest of the people who claimed abuse at the P.E.I. Protestant Orphanage, says a former resident.
Roch Longueépée, who was not involved in the lawsuit but had two brothers who were, said the settlement sends the wrong message to the community and the victims.
“This is a really bad deal,” he said.
On Friday, P.E.I. Supreme Court Justice Wayne Cheverie signed a settlement order that will see the 57 plaintiffs in the case get $486,400 from the province and the P.E.I. Protestant Children’s Trust. Cheverie also signed an order that sealed the records in the case.
For its part, the province paid $250,000 toward the settlement, while the P.E.I. Protestant Children’s Trust paid $236,400.
Records filed with the Canada Revenue Agency show the trust’s assets have been shrinking in recent years and have dropped from $1.17 million in 2008 to $706,323 in 2012.
The orphanage in Mount Herbert was founded in 1907, moved to a new building in 1922 and closed in 1975.
But over the years, many former residents came forward with allegations of physical and sexual abuse at the orphanage.
Longueépée was one of those residents.
When the settlement was announced, it was done in the form of a news release that said it came without any admission of liability by any party.
With the lawsuit over, Longueépée said he would have liked to have seen an apology to former residents.
“That was the least I expected,” he said.
Longueépée said he would also like to see a memorial to all the victims and wants the province to take steps to ensure what happened at the orphanage doesn’t happen again.
“As long as the province doesn’t acknowledge the wrong that was done in this case we’ll be at risk of placing our children in the system now at risk as well,” he said.
The lawyers who represented the victims didn’t serve their clients because they should have kept the case going, Longueépée said.
“I think it’s a really sad turn of events.”