Rideau Regional Centre Plaque Unveiling
Memorial Community Centre, Smiths Falls (December 17, 2014)

Karen Chan

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

My name is Karen Chan.

I'm the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Community and Developmental Services Division at the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

And today I’m your Master of Ceremonies.  I really have to say that this is a very wonderful turnout so thank you all, very much, for making the trip.  I think we were all a little bit worried about the weather this morning but I’m glad that it’s turned and we were all able to be here together.

I'm really pleased to see that we have former residents here with us in the audience, as well as a lot of folks from the various associations for community living from all around this area so really thank you very, very much for taking time out to travel here to be with us today.  It is certainly an important event. 

At this time, I’d like to invite David Mckilllop, a former resident of Rideau Regional Centre and the representative plaintiff in the class action, and Vici Clarke, David’s friend and litigation guardian, to say a few words.

David Mckilllop

Good afternoon, everybody.

Thank you for coming down.

My name is David Mckillop and my friend Vici Clarke.

We both thank you for all coming down here for the meeting for the settlement.

Rob started it to help other people and I stand up for Rob to help Rob out on it, too.

I thank everybody for helping other people, too.

So thank you.

Your turn.

Vici Clarke

My turn.

That’s hard to follow.

So Rob is my brother who lived at Rideau Regional for some time in the 70s.

He is not here this morning.

He decided this morning that he was just not up to making the trip.

David and I as part of our work around the settlement, in this class-action, wanted something as did the people who were involved in Huronia that would keep in our memories with respect to Rideau Regional, therefore we have the plaque.

It was imperative that there was a symbol, that once the court action was finished, once the newspapers, the media and interest dwindled, there was something that there was something, there was a reminder for all of us as we want to be sure this phase in our history isn’t repeated again.

So while the institutions are closed, we want to ensure that all people, regardless of their abilities/disabilities have the opportunities and supports to live fully in their community.

That the undertow of people ending up in nursing homes because of lack of support doesn’t exist or else maybe 50 years down the road some other people will be doing the same thing again.

So we thank all those who assisted in coordinating this and also people who lived here, who lived at Rideau, thank you for coming and those who assisted them to get here, we know that this is not an easy thing to do.

So thank you.

Karen

Thank you so much David and Vici.

Now, it is my pleasure to introduce the Honourable Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services.

The Minister has served as MPP for Oak Ridges–Markham since 2007.

The Minister started her career as a medical doctor and spent many years as a senior health administrator before entering politics.

The Minister will be saying a few words to mark the installation of the plaque.

The plaque was installed last month in front of the Ontario Provincial Police Station Headquarters, which is on the property of the Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls so it is there. The actual words on it are right here for you and you can also you can pick up the words on a card from the table here as well. So now it is my pleasure to introduce the Minister who’s going to say a few words.

Minister Jaczek

Well thank you so much, Karen.

It really is a very special moment for me to join all of you this afternoon.

I have attended similar events at Huronia and at the Southwestern Regional Centre at Cedar Springs, which I had visited actually as a medical student.

I remember absolutely vividly what happened in that institution.

I remember hearing over the years the incredible work that was done by so many individuals and families to move as we have done to community care, and it’s something to which I’m totally dedicated.

It is absolutely, as we all know I’m sure in this room, the right thing to do.

The symbolism of today as Vici has said, and I had the chance to meet with David and his wife Eileen and Vici earlier, the symbolism is extremely important.

It’s all about learning from what was done before and vowing that situations such as the institutionalization at Rideau do not occur again in the future.

Now I do want to acknowledge the presence of my colleague from the legislature Randy Hillier, the member for Lanark--Frontenac--Lennox and Addington.

You may know that we come from opposite sides of the house and I do want to assure you all that he takes his role as critic, of just about everything, very, very seriously.

And of course as you know, we are here to commemorate the lives of the former residents of the Rideau Regional Centre.

And today we are honoured to have with us former residents, their families and supporters, as well as representatives from about a dozen local agencies, including Brockville & Area Community Living Association, Christian Horizons, Community Living North Grenville, Mills Community Support Corporation and Tayside Community Options.

Thank you, all, for joining us this afternoon.

Today, we officially dedicate a plaque to honour the memory of individuals who lived at Rideau Regional Centre.

Aujourd’hui, nous dévoilons officiellement une plaque en souvenir des personnes qui ont vécu au Centre régional Rideau.

We are doing this because we want to ensure that the history of this time is remembered.

Nous posons ce geste parce que nous voulons nous assurer que l’histoire de cette époque ne se perde pas.

Ontario closed the doors to Rideau Regional Centre and the last remaining facilities for people with developmental disabilities in 2009.

Earlier this year, the government took responsibility for the suffering of people who experienced harm at Rideau – a place that was intended to provide them with support.

Premier Wynne delivered a formal apology in writing to former Rideau residents in April, saying:

“We commit to learning from the wrongs of the past and ensuring your painful stories inspire a fairer and more inclusive society.”

That’s why we are preserving about 46,000 historical documents produced in the course of the litigation in the Archives of Ontario for scholarly research.

We are making these documents 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.

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

Aujourd’hui, nous inaugurons cette plaque en souvenir de l’expérience de milliers d’Ontariens et d’Ontariennes qui ont vécu au Centre régional Rideau.

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

Bien que nous ne puissions pas changer le passé, nous pouvons veiller à ce que les leçons apprises ne soient pas oubliées.

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 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.

Here in Smiths Falls and the surrounding areas, many individuals receive supports at the organizations represented here today.

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

Alors que nous renforçons et augmentons les soutiens ici, à Smith Falls, et dans tout l’Ontario, nous ne perdrons jamais de vue notre objectif consistant à édifier une province où les personnes de toutes aptitudes sont considérées comme des membres à part entière de nos communautés et sont valorisées.

Thank you very much. Merci.

Karen Chan

Thank you very much, Minister, for being here today.

And I can tell you personally from working with the Minister over the last little while, that the Minister is committed to the work we have in front of us still.

We’re still on our journey of transformation and still on a journey of inclusion.

We’re very fortunate to have the Minister in the leadership role and with the commitment she has to the future.

And we have some opportunities, so it’s a good time to remember and think about where we’ve been, thinking about the future.

I want to again thank each and every one of you for being here today, for making the journey, for coming to stop, to think and to remember our past and to think about our future and the opportunities that we have within our communities.

There’s going to be some time for us to have some refreshments.

There are some refrehments back there so that we can mix and mingle a little bit and then there will be also a time for the media.

David is going to perform for us and so we’re going to ask David to come up now, he’s going to get set up here.

David

Some people say I’m groovy.

Some people say I am dumb. 

But if you spend some time with me, you will find I’m feeling free.

Lord, carry me away.

Lord, carry me away…

For I, I’ve done my share today. 

Lord, carry me away

For I, I’ve done my share today.

I don’t care what people say.

They’re breaking me anyway.

They treat me good.

They treat me bad.

They make me blue.

They make me sad.

Lord, carry me away.

Lord, carry me away. 

For I, I’ve done my share today.

Lord, carry me away. 

For I, I’ve done my share today.

Lord, carry me away. 

For I, I’ve done my share today.

Lord, carry me away. 

For I, I’ve done my share today.

For I, I’ve done my share today.

That’s for everybody.