Opening Ontario’s “Saddest Chapter”: A Social History of Huronia Regional Centre
In 2010 the residents of Huronia Regional Centre, Rideau Regional Centre and Southwestern Regional Centre launched three separate class action lawsuits against the government of Ontario. These lawsuits allege that residents of these provincially-run centres, the majority of whom were diagnosed with some form of intellectual disability, were subjected to multiple forms of abuse and inhumane treatment. This paper contextualizes these lawsuits by providing a social history of the Huronia Regional Centre – the first centre to launch a class action lawsuit. The purpose is threefold: firstly, to explore the social context of Canadian institutions as exemplified by the history of Huronia Regional Centre, secondly, to outline the bureaucratic organization of institutions related to the social context of institutionalization, and thirdly, to understand the social and historical milieu that lead to the maltreatment and neglect of institutionalized persons in Ontario. As such, this paper attempts to make clear the importance of the lawsuits and other current historical justice-related pursuits undertaken by institutional survivors.