As a child, Émilie Roy was placed in segregation for up to 48 consecutive hours when she was under the responsibility of a youth center. Like many of her comrades, she was medicated by products we know today, she says, contrary to the benefits then expected. Beside her, who is also a witness of similar living conditions, another young woman explains that she experienced sexual abuse in centers when she was wanted to leave her home for the same reason.
For her first day of work, before hearing the first witnesses, young adults who had come to tell their story of what they experienced in youth services, the president of the Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and the Protection of Youth, Regine Laurent, described as "sick" the system she is called to dissect over the next few months.
Under the portrayal of a teddy bear, Commission Chair Regine Laurent stated in her inaugural statement that "we have failed as a society" to care for the most vulnerable.
She recalled, not without emotion, the fate of this seven-year-old girl from Granby, torn too late from her family home and dead, some time later, to the hospital. This tragic story had aroused public outrage, as the girl had obviously slipped between the cracks of a system that was supposed to preserve her from the worst.
According to Ms. Laurent, there was indeed, in this story, matter to shake all of Quebec. The Commission is likely to hear other difficult stories, judging by the first public testimony on Tuesday, with some being placed under the seal of confidentiality.
Émilie Roy recounts that at the age of 14, in the regime of the youth centers to which she was subjected, she was diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder for which she was quickly heavily medicated. "I was diagnosed with an illness that was not mine," she says, explaining that she is actually suffering from Asperger's syndrome. Medications are quickly imposed as a solution. We do not think enough about simple alternative practices, she notes in passing. "In my case, if I could go out with a book, it would have been great. "
I was diagnosed with an illness that was not mine
Witnesses heard in the morning, a majority said before Regine Laurent have been subjected to a drug. "We continue to stuff our children with drugs. Do you understand that it's terrible? "This leaves stigma and produces skinned children, insists Émilie Roy.
"We can not work on children today without looking after parents," says Marie-Ève Brunet Kitchen, President of the Quebec Federation of Community Family Organizations (FQOCF). She deplores the underfunding of aid agencies. Funding for these organizations averages about $ 65,000 a year, too little to expect to provide services in all regions of Quebec. "It's not true that all families have community tools" to help them, she says. Yet, "there is no family that is safe from a moment of vulnerability".
Sara Labrie, child of the DPJ, deplores the instability of the aid system in place. If stability is important for children, why is it not for the organizations that are supposed to help them? Outside the community network of OCF, "we are only a number"! She is afraid that her children will walk "in her footsteps", because they can not count on the collaboration between social services and strong community bodies, able to anticipate problems.
Major, and after?
"We should be an international example" in child care, said Marcelle Partouche Guiterez, adding that this is far from the case. We must increase the level of waiting for the children of the DPJ. Today, a 28-year-old university student, she plans to obtain a doctorate.
When her mother died in Montreal North, her older brother found herself caring for her and her sister. "He was not of age," she says at Duty. "We did it underground. We lived in a poverty difficult to imagine. Then she found herself in a youth center. "As soon as we get out, at 18, we are supposed to be adults. It's not realistic. "
Jessica Côte-Guimond adds, "When you're 18, when you're told that you're an adult, you can not do anything for yourself," the system lacks judgment. These young people are not sufficiently developed on the personal level, she maintains, accustomed that they are to live in a closed system where everything has been decided in advance, according to a strict schedule.
I would have liked that my parents are no longer in the decor
"I would have liked that my parents are no longer in the background," says Annie Theriault. She wanted to be adopted to get by. When she became an adult, she took steps to finally be able to bear the name of the host family who eventually raised her. A lawyer told her that she should prove that it was her real family, showing how her biological parents were inadequate. Faced with the costs and emotional efforts required, she gave up. She questions the place that Quebec society places on foster families. "The one who brought me up told me that he and his wife were never married and that they had been a couple for forty years and that even if I did not wear their name, I would still be their daughter. (…) My (biological) mother had a hard time coming to an appointment a month … It's soon my graduation, and my host family will be there. "
Before Christmas, the Laurent Commission will sit for five weeks. It must travel around Quebec in the coming months before making its recommendations known, by November 2020 at the latest.