HRC Plaque Unveiling
HRC, Orillia (September 15, 2014)

Karen Chan
Assistant Deputy Minister, Community and Developmental Services Division - Ministry of Community and Social Services

My name is Karen Chan and I'm the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Community and Developmental Services Division at the Ministry of Community and Social Services and I’m here to be your MC today.

Thank you very much for being here and I know some of you have travelled quite far and so I really do appreciate the trips that many folks made.

I'm particularly pleased to see some former residents in the audience, some people that I’ve gotten to know these last few months and also some relatives of folks.  Thank you very much for taking the time to come today too.  Also we have some elected officials with us and we have some representatives from associations and organizations that provide services for individuals with developmental disabilities so thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be here.

It's my pleasure to welcome all of you here and to introduce the Honourable Dr. Helena Jaczek, who was appointed Minister of Community and Social Services just a few months ago.  I have to tell you that the Minister has been very, very busy just in the last little while travelling across to federal and provincial meetings and certainly out and in various communities across the province and we certainly feel  very privileged to have her as our Minister.

She has served as MPP for Oak Ridges–Markham since 2007 and she had a career as a medical doctor first and then spent many years as a medical officer of health before coming into politics.

Minister Jaczek will be saying a few words to mark the installation of the commemorative plaque here at the former Huronia Regional Centre.

In the near future, we will have kinds of events at Rideau in Smiths Falls and Southwestern Regional Centre as well.

Welcome Minister Jaczek.

Dr. Helena Jaczek
Minister, Ministry of Community and Social Services

Well thank you very much Karen, and thank you, everyone, for joining us here today to commemorate the lives of the former residents of the Huronia Regional Centre. Today we are honoured to have with us former residents I’ve just had an opportunity to speak with a number of them, their families and supporters, as well as government officials and our partners in the developmental services community. Local representation from his Worship Angelo Orsi, we also have Janet Nolan from Christian Horizons, Chris Beasley from Community Living Ontario and other representatives from community agencies.

Our aim here today is to honour the memory of those who lived here, help them tell their stories and ensure that the history of this time is remembered.

Ontario closed the doors to this institution and the last remaining facilities for people with developmental disabilities in 2009.

Last year the government took responsibility for the suffering of those who experienced harm at Huronia, many years ago, in a place that was intended to provide them with support.

Premier Wynne delivered a formal apology to former Huronia residents in the Legislature, saying,
“We will protect the memory of all those who have suffered, help tell their stories and ensure that the lessons of this time are not lost.”

We are preserving more than 65,000 historical documents in the Archives of Ontario for scholarly research. We have gone a step further by making them available to the public in a way that both safeguards their historic integrity, and maintains the privacy of those involved.

These documents are also available online and at a special reading room in Toronto.

We provided former residents and their families access to Huronia through site visits -
which have resulted in over 700 former residents and members of the public having come through these buildings. Based on the responses we have gathered thus far from former residents, their family members, friends and support workers, these visits have resulted in meaningful and respectful experiences.

And today, we’re unveiling this plaque as a reminder of the experience of the thousands of Ontarians who lived at Huronia Regional Centre.

While we cannot change the past, we can ensure we uphold the lessons we have learned.

Today, our vision for developmental services is different. Our goal now and for the future is to do all we can so that individuals with a developmental disability are supported to live as independently as possible - and are fully included in the fabric of our communities. And we HAVE made progress.

Today, more than 60,000 people with a developmental disability live in our cities and towns, and receive supports close to their family and friends.

As we strengthen and increase those supports, it will always be with the goal of building a province where people of all abilities are full and valued members of our communities.

Thank you.

Karen Chan

Thank you very much Minister for being here today.

At this time, this is a short ceremony we invite you to actually take some time go and have a look and read the plaque. I think it really is an important time and you may want to take some pictures there.