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LETTER: Razing HRC building would be 'even more victimizing'

Former HRC resident wants building turned into a 'recreation centre that can offer free programs for children and youth ... where joy can live there again'
HRC file photo
The Huronia Regional Centre has been closed for years. It is located on Memorial Avenue across from the OPP General Headquarters.
OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor. This letter is in reference to a letter, published March 21 , titled 'Feelings abour HRC site have Biblical roots, reader says.' Send your letters to dave@orilliamatters.com
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The reader suggests installing a cross at the site to 'acknowledge the abuses and sufferings. (It would) also show Jesus 'cared for every grief, every tear,' he says.

I am the niece of a maleo survivor and long-term.resident of the HRC. I find this letter really presumptuous.

My uncle and I went through the lawsuit process and read a lot of stories together but nothing prepared us for the visit to the grave sites of the countless children who died at the HRC.

When visiting their graves last year,  one thing that is very noticeable is the number of Indigenous children who attended Huronia Institute and died. Their bodies buried only metres from their abusers' legacy. 

After consulting with my uncle who is an Indigenous survivor. He was absolutely beside himself to find out the MPP Jill Dunlop was considering rallying support to begin tearing down the building. 

My uncle said, "The building didn't hurt me. It was the people and they are long gone now."

In fact, my uncle believes that the building is a historic site and should be kept around so that others will remember the children when they are long gone too. He said the loss of the building would be even more victimizing.

What he hated to see was the loss of the open waterfront which is now fenced in. This is where he had his fondest memories that helped alleviate his memories of abuse. 

He tried to take his family to the water when we visited last year and it was fenced off. He cried and said he wants his family to build new memories there. He would like to see the building turned into a recreation centre that can offer free programs for children and youth .. where joy can live there again. He wants children's laughter there.

He wants his story told so future generations don't forget him. He doesn't want to be forgotten and the grave site is not where he wants to be remembered.

Keep in mind that many Indigenous children were taken from their homes and placed in institutions that forced Christianity on them. HRC was no different just because it was for those with "intellectual disabilities."

There is nothing wrong with loving God and having your faith displayed but do not let it be the centre over all others beliefs. We did that once and it destroyed the cultures and spirituality of others.

Although well meaning this chaplain's letter is thinking only of his own beliefs. Has anyone asked ALL the surviving residents what they want? After all they are valuable and participating members of our community and had their voices taken away long enough.

Amanda Dale
Bear Waters Gathering CEO

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