Hidden from History:
The Canadian Holocaust
More Canadian Horror!
It wasn't that long ago that me, Nancy Mayer, Irene Deschenes and George (a Duplessis orphan) followed the Canadian Bishops from their conference in Cornwall to a church in Kingston, Ontario, where they planned to co-celebrate mass. We planned a VERY SMALL demonstration..3 women and an aging man. I carried a sign that said: "Female victims ignored" and Nancy, Irene and George carried crosses with a heart in the middle with the words "sexual abuse" written in red. A formidable group!
A priest told us to get off church property or he would phone the police. A Catholic woman tried to form a physical barrier between the "protestors" and the bishops. The priest/pastor hissed at the woman: "Don't talk to them!" The bishop's had security tightened and they entered their bus without a word to the 4 "terrorists" who were held at abeyance.
Duplessis orphans call for exhumations: Aim to show children were experimented upon
Saturday, June 19, 2004
Byline: William Marsden
A group of orphans are fighting for the bodies of children to be exhumed from an abandoned Montreal cemetery in a bid to discover whether they were the subject of medical experiments. The group has hired a lawyer to ask a court for permission to dig up the bodies of the children, who were also orphans, and perform forensic examinations.
Rod Vienneau, a spokesman for the orphans, said, "We want to show that these people were the victims of medical experiments such as lobotomies." There were about 20,000 orphans during the 1940s, '50s and early '60s -- generally called the Duplessis era, after Quebec premier Maurice Duplessis -- who were handed over to various religious institutions.
Thousands were labelled mentally deficient and sent to asylums and other church-run institutions because the nuns running the establishments received larger subsidies for the mentally ill.
The orphans' group claims children buried in an abandoned cemetery in east-end Montreal may have been victims of medical experiments performed at the old Cite de St. Jean de Dieu insane asylum, now Louis-Hyppolite Lafontaine Hospital.
The group's lawyer, Daniel Lighter, said, "If there is evidence of this kind of activity, then it would certainly be important evidence in a suit against the government, church and doctors."
Mr. Lighter said it will take several months to analyze whether there is enough proof to persuade a judge to order the exhumations. Many orphans were sexually abused and forced to work in slave-labour conditions. Some claim as well that many were subjected to medical experiments inside the asylums.
Albert Sylvio, 62, was a Duplessis orphan who lived at St. Jean de Dieu in the 1950s. He said that during that time, he transported about 60 bodies of fellow orphans from the operating rooms to the basement morgue. "I undressed them and washed them and prepared them for burial," he said. "We put them in cardboard boxes. Some of them were children." He said the bodies were then taken to the cemetery and buried in unmarked graves.
"There was never any ceremony. Some of these people died on the operating table. Some had been sick and some had committed suicide." The medical experiments are alleged to have been performed on living orphans.
Paul St. Aubain, another Duplessis orphan, said he was lobotomized at age 18 at a mental hospital in Joliette called St. Michel Archange. "I wasn't ill," he said. "They did it without my consent, without my permission. They were experimenting with me. I was a prisoner." Mr. St. Aubain, 52, said he spent 25 years in various mental institutions run by nuns in Quebec and during that time saw "other orphans who were lobotomized."
He said doctors also gave him electroshock therapy and numerous psychiatric drugs. Mr. St. Aubain now lives on welfare in Joliette. He cannot work. A Quebec law passed in 1942 allowed the nuns to sell unclaimed bodies to medical schools for $10. Many dead orphans, whose names and identities had been changed or erased, were dissected. What was left of their bodies was buried in cemeteries such as St. Jean de Dieu.
One government registry indicates there were about 2,000 bodies buried at the St. Jean de Dieu cemetery, which locals called the "pigsty" because it was next to a hog farm owned by the nuns. At least 42 were children.
How many orphans ended up as cadavers for anatomy students is not known because hospital registries have disappeared from government archives or were never properly filled out.
The practice of selling unclaimed cadavers to medical schools continued into the 1960s. In 2002, a group of 1,100 orphans settled with the government for about $25-million for wrongfully placing them in mental institutions. Other Duplessis orphans, who had been placed in religious institutions and claim they were sexually abused, are still fighting for compensation.
"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of moral
outrage retain their neutrality." (Dante, Inferno) Or, to put it more
clearly: You are either part of the problem or part of the solution.
The dye is cast.