A reparation loophole has finally been closed and justice provided to survivors of institutionalized abuse in British Columbia.
For over a century, residents of Woodlands (formerly Woodlands School) in New Westminster, BC, were exposed to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse which was widely overlooked by the government of British Columbia even though the residents were in their care.
After Woodlands closed in 1996, some former residents, including spokesperson Bill McArthur, tirelessly fought for justice and for compensation. Bill McArthur was a guest speaker at a Cerebral Palsy Association of BC Youth Without Limits meeting in 2016 to share conversations around segregation and institutionalization. A CPABC blog post put a spotlight on the tragic, unforgivable treatment that took place inside Woodlands School.
During the fight for justice, little compensation was given to survivors due to bureaucratic loopholes. For example, in order for residents to receive compensation, there needed to be a witness to the abuse and the incident had to have taken place after 1974.
On March 31, 2018, British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix announced, “all survivors who lived at the facility before 1974 will receive $10,000”. There are believed to be between 900 and 1,500 survivors of Woodlands, and the government expects to pay between $9-million and 15-million.
Bill McArthur says “justice has been done. After so many years of suffering, it’s finally brought closure to a festering sore.”
Youth Without Limits provides peer-led discussions around issues relevant to the disability community. Learn more.