Former Institution Residents Seek $1.26 Billion Over Childhood
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 1, 2004
ABBOTSFORD, BRITISH COLUMBIA--Former residents of the Brannan Lake School for Boys and Willingdon School for Girls are speaking out about the torment they say they endured as youths while confined there in the middle of the last century.
The Abbotsford Times and Royal City Record reported that in the last few weeks Dan Larsen and Lynda Ann Parrish have filed claims in British Columbia Supreme Court against their former guardian, the province of British Columbia. In the proposed class action suits, they are seeking a total of $1.26 billion in damages for their treatment at the Vancouver Island institutions.
They believe there could eventually be thousands of claimants.
Brannon Lake closed in 1969, while Willingdon closed in 1974.
Larson was admitted to Brannan Lake School in 1946 and stayed until 1963, when he was 21. He described the institution as a place where boys were forced to perform oral sex on staff and to do slave labor. He said the facility provided the youths with no education or training, little dental and medical care, and no information about their rights. Larson claims that staff punished him for running away by torturing and beating him, and finally had him sterilized without his permission or knowledge.
"I'm pissed off I have no children, no family," said Larsen, who heads up the Welfare and Handicapped Persons Rights Society in Abbotsford.
Parrish said girls at Willingdon were raped and forced into prostitution by staff members. Many became pregnant and gave birth while at the facility. Even though she gave birth to two children while at the facility, there are no birth records.
"Everyone was told their babies were stillborn. They never got to see them," said Parrish.
"My story is less tragic than some, more tragic than others," she said. "I certainly feel validated, for the first time since I was a little girl."
"I'm not shutting up now, I'm not going away."