QUEEN'S PARK, TORONTO, March 24, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, on the eve of a possible election, former Ontario Crown wards, Holly Papassay and Toni Grann share their tragic childhood experiences of criminal abuse, neglect, and re-victimization that took place before and also while the government was their legal guardian. Ms. Papassay and Ms. Grann are the lead plaintiffs in a proposed class action lawsuit on behalf of former and current Crown wards against the province of Ontario, one that is likely to heat up in the coming weeks.
The proposed class action includes all children who were Crown wards at any time from January 1, 1966, the date that the Province of Ontario voluntarily accepted legal responsibility and guardianship of Crown wards. Ms. Grann and Ms. Papassay, along with the other class members, are seeking justice for the Crown's failure to protect their legal rights to seek compensation as a result of the abuse and neglect they suffered before and while under the care of the Province. Currently, class counsel have been contacted by almost 200 class members, and there is expected to be tens of thousands of people in the class.
"Sadly, my experience is not unique. There were countless children like me who were torn from their homes, only to experience further abuse because the Ontario government failed us," said former Crown ward Toni Grann. "I hope that by sharing my story, others will have the courage to come forward so that we can get some closure on this terrible chapter of our lives. Justice must be done."
"I was taken from my home at the age of five, when I could speak Ojibway, French and English. I was promised a better life," said former Crown ward Holly Papassay. "The government of Ontario broke that promise. Not only did I suffer horrible abuse but I also lost my ability to speak Ojibway and French. I lost my childhood, I lost my culture and I lost my identity. There are others like me who also deserve to have their story told so that history can't repeat itself."
Crown wards were victims of criminal abuse and neglect as children, and as a result, were taken from their families and placed under the "care" of the province of Ontario. The victims were entitled to apply for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and to commence proceedings for civil damages. The government failed to inform the children of their rights and failed to take any steps to protect those rights, or pursue those claims.
On behalf of the victims, Watkins Law Corporation and Koskie Minsky LLP have filed a proposed $110 million class-action lawsuit against the government of Ontario for systematically failing to protect the rights of children under the Province's care.
"I am honoured to represent the women and men who have suffered greatly as a direct result of government inaction," said Sandy Zaitzeff, co-lead counsel, Watkins Law Corporation, "They were child victims, and there is no reason that these tragedies should be kept hidden any longer. On the eve of a possible election, we hope that all three political parties do the right thing and advocate on the victims' behalf."
"Justice delayed is justice denied – we want to make sure that these individuals shall be denied no longer," said Jonathan Ptak, co-lead counsel, Koskie Minsky LLP, "Like with the Huronia case, these victims were helpless and at the mercy of the government. We intend to shine a light on their experiences and demand that the government take responsibility and be accountable before the upcoming election."
SOURCE: Koskie Minsky LLP
For further information: www.crownwardclassaction.com; Jonathan Ptak, co-lead counsel, Koskie Minsky LLP, Phone: 416-977-8353, Email: [email protected]; Sandy Zaitzeff, co-lead counsel, Watkins Law Corporation, Phone: 807-345-4455, Email: [email protected]