The Duplessis orphans
The Duplessis orphans (French: les Orphelins de Duplessis) is the name given to thousands of orphans who had been improperly diagnosed as mentally incompetent by the government of Quebec, Canada and confined to psychiatric institutions under the Duplessis government.
Maurice Duplessis was the premier of
Beginning in the 1940s and continuing into the 1960s, Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis in cooperation with the Roman Catholic Church which ran the orphanages, developed a scheme to obtain Federal funding for thousands of children. Many of the Duplessis Orphans were in fact not orphans but simply children born out of wedlock or to extremely poor families.
Many survivors say they were sexually abused at the orphanages and forced to work in slave-labour conditions. In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Duplessis Orphan Hervé Bertrand recalled the day he was improperly diagnosed. He was a third grade student at the
In 1942, the Legislative Assembly of Quebec passed into a law that allowed the Roman Catholic Church running the orphanages to sell unclaimed bodies of any orphan to medical schools for $10. This practice of selling orphans' remains continued into the 1960s. No one knows how many ended up on the dissection table for medical students. According to testimony by individuals who were at the Cite de St. Jean de Dieu insane asylum, now named
Paul St. Aubin, one of the so-called orphans, told CFCF News he received electroshock therapy and was lobotomized during his 18 years at Cite de St. Jean de Dieu, And Sylvio Vincent, who lived at the same hospital, said it was his job to wash the bodies of those who died in the operating ward. He said many of the bodies he saw had holes in their heads. In 2004, members of the "Duplessis Orphans" asked the
For the rest of their lives they would struggle to bring attention to their story and demand compensation. In early 1990, orphans are mobilizing and demanding justice and reparations. They lead an unequal struggle to break the collective amnesia that
The estimated number of Duplessis Orphans ranges enormously from 1,500 to 20,000 according to source. Some argue that those who were misdiagnosed as mentally retarded were technically Duplessis Orphans. Others say the group should include all orphans during this time period.
Wikipedia. Duplessis orphans.
CBC Archives. The Duplessis orphans.
CTV.ca Duplessis orphans want Mtl. burial site dug up.
CBC News.ca Duplessis Orphans seek proof of Medial experiement
TQS.ca Les enfants de Duplessis indemnisés.
Archives Radio-Canada. Orphelins de Duplessis, enfants d'asile