"We want justice and we want the truth, finally, to be told."
An official probe can determine how many of the victims may have been Orphans, said CCHR's Denis Coté. "This dark chapter in Canada's history needs to be aired for all to see in a series of hearings," he said. "I believe it would be best for an independent public inquiry to examine this."
In its own investigation, Freedom found what appears to be an ongoing campaign of deception and disinformation designed to derail any examination of criminal acts or other misconduct against the Orphans by psychiatrists and others, and to keep those crimes covered up.
Orphans seeking justice, for example, have reported threats and assaults. Joseph Martin said he was visited at his home by four men who refused to identify themselves but warned him to "shut up." This occurred a few days after Freedom had contacted Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine Hospital for comment regarding allegations by Martin and others.
As part of any official investigation, witnesses and their families must be safeguarded.
"I Do Not Know the Doctors Who Gave This False Diagnosis"
For years, Rod Vienneau has asked, "Who is being protected?"
Vienneau suspects that the Roman Catholic Church, vilified as being responsible because it owned St. Jean de Dieu and certain other facilities, was itself exploited by psychiatrists who fattened off money from pharmaceutical companies, intelligence agencies and the Canadian national government. (See "The Littlest 'Guinea Pigs,'" page 23.)
In the early 1950s, Canada's national government withdrew funding from the education field while remaining active in health matters. It considered Mont Providence, for example, run by the Sisters of Charity of Providence, to be an educational facility and therefore ineligible for funding.
The Quebec government under Duplessis, however, felt that as a re-education and rehabilitation center, Mont Providence should be considered a health care facility. Although Mont Providence was affiliated with St. Jean de Dieu, Ottawa held its ground. The Quebec government subsequently advised the Sisters of Charity to change the facility's vocation to benefit from federal funding.
A $3 million agreement was signed in 1954 that converted the school to a psychiatric hospital, jettisoning its main purpose of educating and helping children.16
In a written response to Freedom regarding charges of abuse at Mont Providence, hospital spokesperson Johanne Gagnon readily admitted that the Orphans had been falsely labeled.
"The Sisters of Providence were in charge of the educational development of these Orphans," Gagnon wrote. "They even continued their teachings after the Duplessis government delegated funds to this establishment, and ordered that no education was given to these children for they were 'mentally crazy' (that was the expression used at the time, referring to those with intellectual deficiency). Mont Providence, just like many centers, accepted that such labels be given to the young Orphans. I do not know the doctors who gave this false diagnosis."