Woodlands institution opened in New Westminster on May 17, 1878, as the Provincial Asylum for the Insane, later renamed the Provincial Hospital for the Insane. In 1950 it was renamed Woodlands School and in 1974 the name was, once again, changed to Woodlands. It provided care primarily to the developmentally disabled and some individuals with both developmental disabilities and mental illness. It was operated by the Ministry of Health until June 27, 1974, on a medical model. After that time, Woodlands was managed and operated by the Ministry of Human Resources.
In 2000, former provincial ombudsperson Dulcie McCallum was commissioned by the provincial government to conduct an independent review to determine if abuse had taken place at Woodlands. Her report, released in 2002, found that there had been widespread sexual, physical and psychological abuse of Woodlands’ residents.
Following the release of McCallum’s report, the public guardian and trustee (PGT) commenced an investigation on Woodlands, which began in 2002 and was released August 2004, entitled The Woodlands Project. The PGT report, which reviewed approximately 100,000 pages of residents’ files, supported the findings made by McCallum. However, the provincial government at the time did not accept the findings of either report.
In August 2002, former Woodlands residents commenced a class action. The class action was originally certified to include all former residents. However, the Province sought and won a ruling at the B.C. Court of Appeal to exclude people who lived at Woodlands prior to Aug. 1, 1974. The settlement agreement was reached in 2009 and approved in 2010, and a compensation claims process was established.
Jane Dyson, former executive director, Disability Alliance BC –
“Finally, after all these years of being told no, our Province is saying yes to the survivors of Woodlands. I am thrilled that this day has finally come, and that the remaining survivors will receive recognition of the abuse they suffered. It’s very important now that the disability community and the Province share the information widely about how former Woodlands’ residents can access their payment. We need to ensure that as many survivors as possible know that their pain and struggle has been acknowledged and their voices listened to.”
(For the record, Publisher worked for almost 30 years in Oliver with friends, buddys, people, clients, some-times called inmates, retarded, special, disabled etc. and he visited Woodlands in the Royal City during his occupational training – hard to take at times – a very sad location to house anyone)
Source: BC Government, photo Vancouver Province