Premier Stephen McNeil offered a formal apology today, Oct. 10, on behalf of the province to those who suffered abuse and neglect at the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children.
“We hear your voices and we grieve for your pain,” Premier McNeil said. “For the trauma and neglect you endured, and the lingering effects on you and your loved ones, we are truly sorry.
“We also thank you for showing such courage and perseverance in telling your stories. Your strength, your resilience, and your desire for healing and reconciliation should be an inspiration to all Nova Scotians.”
The society representing former residents of the home, VOICES, thanked the premier for apologizing on behalf of government.
“Many former residents have hoped for this day for a long time,” said VOICES co-chair Tony Smith. “I want to thank Premier McNeil and the government for acknowledging our suffering and joining us on our journey to healing.”
The government last month finalized a $29-million settlement with former residents of the home. The claims period opened this week.
Government has committed to a restorative public inquiry that will examine what happened at the home and why. A design group of former residents, a home board member, provincial and community agencies, and restorative justice practitioners is working to draft terms of reference.
“We must go into an inquiry with clear eyes and open hearts, willing to examine our failures and embrace changes for the sake of our future,” Premier McNeil said. “We want to understand our collective responsibilities and find a better way forward, together.”
The province is also working with health-care providers to give support to former residents who find the claims and inquiry process difficult or distressing.
Former residents seeking counselling, health and emotional supports can call 1-866-330-5952 toll-free to speak with someone who can help connect them with services in their area.