Tbnewswatch Local News
Wednesday July 1 2015
7:12 PM EDT
2014-01-30 at 16:12

Class-action suit

Toni Grann, left, and Holly Papassay hold a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Toni Grann, left, and Holly Papassay hold a press conference Thursday afternoon.
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

WARNING: Story may contain graphic details

A local woman is taking the lead in a $100 million class-action lawsuit that claims the province has systematically failed to protect the legal rights and claims of kids in care.

Holly Papassay became a Crown Ward when she was five. Over the next seven years she was moved through foster homes between Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay, where she suffered abuse and attempted sexual assaults.

In one home she was forced to watch as an older boy in care raped a neighbour.

Other foster parents locked her in a room with the windows nailed shut, starving and not able to go to the bathroom for hours at a time.

When she tried to tell Children's Aid about it, she said they called her a “problem child.”

"Nobody listened or did anything. I was labeled as a liar a troublemaker," she said.

As early as 1971, children who suffered abuse while in the Crown's care have been entitled to seek compensation and damages through the provincial Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. But no one ever told her that. As a child or an adult, she said.

"Even if I would have had some kind of counseling," Papassay said.

Toni Grann feels the same. Bouncing through foster care in Southern Ontario, before being placed with a family that she's still with to this day and credits for saving her life, Grann was raped in a home that led to a conviction.

Still, she was never offered any help. From counseling to post-secondary education, knowing there were ways to get that help would've gone a long way.

"It could have changed the course of my life," she said.

Papassay is now the lead in a class-action suit against the province that alleges Ontario breached its duty and failed to consider or take steps to protect and pursue the rights of Crown Wards.

Since 1966 when a child is considered a ward, the province assumes responsibility in the same way that a parent would. Watkins Law Professional Corporation and Toronto's Koskie Minsky are partnering to take the case on. Lawyer Sandy Zaitzeff said this suit, filed in Thunder Bay, will show that the problem is province-wide.

"Their stories are horrific, their stories are grotesque," he said. "What they went through no one should go through."

Since filing last week, Zaitzeff said he's heard from 30 people already who were wards and had similar experiences. He estimates there might be thousands more out there.

Papassay and Grann said the main reason the suit is out there is so that other children won't have to suffer the same way.

"When a child is telling you something's happening, listen," Papassay said.

"We hope that it will make the system change. That's all you can do," Grann said.

Zaitzeff estimates the suit will take around three years to be certified.



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I joined that new Class Action Lawsuit.
12/3/2014 10:44:14 PM
internettoughguy19 says:
"I applaud these ppl and they have my 100 support in the fight against all child care agencies. It will be interesting to see how many Chief's and Counil's get behind their ppl and chose to speak against the Government. The time for lip service action is over and now it's time to act on what the ppl are saying. There are many Aboriginal children in care all over this GREAT land and it's a wonder what their lives are like woyj ppl who are not their blood relatives. I am sure these Chiefs and politicians will find a way to look like something is being done, maybe build a bridge, maybe set up meetings, how about disband Dilico and start all over, hire all Aboriginal Ppl, take all the kids in care and put em in good homes, but that won't happen because doing this would take effort and hard work. In some instances one can't even get a letter from Chief, Council's and Aboriginal Agencies becz they know as a whole they're in nothing we can do. Maybe this suit will finally change all that.
1/31/2014 1:55:27 PM
Greenstoner says:
Is it possible to look at this without emotion? Certainly what happened to these innocent children was grossly wrong, totally unfair and scarred many of them for life. But where were their parents? I realize that may seem like an extremely naïve question. But why should my tax $'s today pay for the sins of past actions by an over burdened government agency? Sue the perpetrators of the indecencies - not the government (who has no face). In all honesty there probably were many more good news stories about appropriate care given to abandoned children. If the money awarded (if any) was to go towards improving the system, then by all means. But life simply isn't fair and everybody done wrong in years gone past, should not necessarily be compensated. The lawyers will be the winners in this one.
1/31/2014 9:12:23 AM
trevor99 says:
U think we should leave emotion out of abused children. Yes let's put the taxpayer ahead of children. Anything for the almighty dollar. On the radio was a report out of Manitoba concerning the death of a 5 year where the children's agencies needed to "actually care for the well being of the child". They were negligent, a child died. These agencies here were negligent, these women suffered horrific abuse. And you ask where were the parents. What did the children leave on their own at 5. they were removed from the parents. Your tax dollars? I pay taxes too. Don't speak for me. Maybe paying out will be an incentive to fix the mess these women went through. Your best line. Life isn't fair. Okay. I'll come around and smash up your car making it unusable. You will have to buy another one. Don't ask the police to solve it. don't ask the courts to make me pay cause life isn't fair. You just suck it up okay. Sexually abused as children. Do you understand. Maybe apologize for your post.
1/31/2014 3:34:23 PM
Somebody says:
About time. They should better screen the foster homes and have better workers. There are so many stories and the agency covering them with the same "Problem Child" And their service is suppose to be great? Leaving their children with scares for life. Children are more important then being neglected, abused, and ignore for money. All these places do is make thing much worst for them then really caring and making things better. Holly Papassay I give you all of my support!
1/31/2014 4:26:44 AM
Synical says:
I wish her the best of luck. More attention needs to be called to the abuses that children in care suffer. I know first hand that some 'loving, supportive' foster parents, as claimed by the agency, foster parents who insist it's not about the paycheck, but buy themselves flat screen tv's and brand new vehicles with the proceeds from the kids in their care as opposed to feeding their charges. One in recent memory, who is still an active foster parent right now, fed the 5 foster kids she had at one time dry oriental noodles every night for a week ... while buying herself McDonalds.

It has to stop.
1/31/2014 3:07:47 AM
hotchoc says:
What these women and possibly men endured seems similar to what took place in the residential schools.

Money will never make the pain go away or the memories.

But maybe the money will ensure that things like this are not repeated.

No child should have to endure this life long altering event.

And the people responsible, should never see the outside of a prison again. Ever.

I am relatively a forgiving guy.

But do this to a child.
Possess child porn that victimizes a child.

Tell me why anyone like that deserves a second chance.

Good luck to these ladies.
1/30/2014 6:55:14 PM
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