A lawsuit was filed on October 31st against Manitoba Developmental Centre in Portage la Prairie. It's currently being looked at to verify its class action status. David Weremy is the lead plaintiff and a current member of People First of Canada (PFC). PFC is the national voice of Canadians who are labelled with an intellectual disability, and is rights-based, helping these people as Canadian citizens to live the same human rights and freedoms that all other citizens of the nation enjoy.
PFC Executive Director Shelley Fletcher details the issue.
"David Weremy is a member of our organization, and is a survivor of Manitoba Developmental Centre," explains Fletcher. "He's the lead plaintiff. It's a class action lawsuit, so there will be other members -- other people -- involved. There are allegations of sexual abuse, abuse, and starvation. David's 74. He was 14 when he went in. So, this goes back 60 years ago."
Fletcher adds Weremy reports many cases of rape taking place in the Centre during this time there involving residents against redsidents, and they were instances that staff were well aware of, but did nothing about. She notes Weremy ran away from the centre nine times during his history there. Fletcher says Weremy talks about being placed in solitary confinement as well as being stripped naked for punishment. She says people are still coming forward, so they don't yet have a number who will be involved in the lawsuit.
Fletcher explains David's experiences are not unique, as there are many similar cases across the country. She says they watch the Ontario Class Action lawsuit quite closely and its outcome. Fletcher adds they know this sort of thing does take place, and has taken place for many years. She adds the question she's asked the most is why did this take so long to get to the point of having a class action lawsuit. PFC gives 100 per cent support to all of its members who are coming forward on this class action, and they'll continue to support them throughout the process.
The province informed us that it's received the statement of claim on this matter and is currently reviewing it in order to prepare their statement of defence. They note it must be filed by January 29.