Gristle in the Stew

In the 1960's, an Ontario government film called One on Every Street was shown regularly to parents of intellectually disabled children. The goal was to reassure them and to persuade parents that committing their children to the care of an institution for the mentally retarded, as these children were known, was the best thing they could do.

Their children would be well cared for.

Muriel Clark is fully convinced that her son, and thousands of other children were neglected and abused in those institutions.

Rob Clark can't speak out - but plenty of other former residents can.

And for the first time their tales of childhood in Ontario's institutions for the intellectually impaired are being told. Those tales are harrowing.

The children who grew up in those institions are middle aged men and women now and they are looking for recompense. They have launched class action law suits against the province of Ontario.

They are asking for 3 billion dollars in damages to be split among 12,000 former residents and their families.

This is the largest legal action on behalf of the intellectually disabled every undertaken in Canada.

It started with two women, Patsy Seth and Marie Slark.

Today they live - independently - in down town Toronto but they grew up at Huronia, the oldest and biggest Ontario instittution for the intellectually impaired, in Orillia a couple of hours north of Toronto.

Here is David Gutnick's documentary, The Gristle in the Stew.