Some of the worst atrocities of state abuse of civil liberties in history were immorally perpetrated against Canadian children. Thousands of medical experiments, arbitrary lobotomies, electro shocks, sexual abuse, murder, secretive disposing of bodies, and the selling of infants for adoption occurred in Quebec between 1945 and 1960. Children of unmarried women and orphans were punitively incarcerated by the government and humiliated and punished as the ‘children of sin’ in draconian Catholic institutions. Discrimination was rampant. Treatments were ruthless and cruel. Fundamental rights and freedoms were extinguished and inheritance was not allowed. The lack of attention and education left many of them speaking only in sounds, wetting the bed, and incapable of telling time, washing themselves, or eating with utensils.
Thousands of illegally interned children suffered a life of deprivation and traumatic abuse at the hands of the state, physicians and psychologists, and the Catholic Church. Healthy orphans incorrectly diagnosed as mentally deficient were sent to psychiatric hospitals. Entire orphanages were nefariously reclassified by the provincial government as psychiatric institutions in order to increase federal funding. The church was complicit in the scheme that allowed the children to be treated like laboratory rats, physically, mentally and sexually abused, and to endure lobotomies, electroshock, straitjackets and corporal punishment. Children of the Duplessis Orphanages suffered profoundly from the scandalous wrongdoings to which they were exposed. Many of the children were permanently disabled, and when they were finally released en mass from the institutions in the 1960’s, they grappled with relationships, addictions, suicide, mental illness, employment, and a failure to function normally in society.
Hospital files and church records were destroyed to prevent criminal charges from being filed against the Quebec government, the Quebec College of Physicians, the Catholic Church and the monks and nuns accused of committing unspeakable serial abuse. Ironically, contraception and abortion were criminal offenses. Whereas, coercing unwed mothers into abandoning their children to the church authorities was encouraged. The orphanages were named after Maurice Duplessis, the 16th Premier of Quebec. His legacy known as the ‘black years’ has been the subject of intense criticism. He is assigned blame for the privileges he granted to the Catholic church and the orphanage asylums.
Children are uniquely vulnerable to human rights abuses and the heinous treatment the Duplessis Orphans received exemplifies their vulnerability. Today’s society has the obligation to expose and acknowledge the scandalous wrongdoings of institutions and authorities everywhere in the world who conspire against defenseless children.
Adoption Detective | Judith Land | Parenting & Relationships | Faith