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Support organization calls for inquest into violent death of Quest resident

Quest and Community Services share responsibility, mother of Quest inmate believes

by Robert Devet

Brenda Hardiman, advocate and mother of a Quest resident, believes that the announced "best practices review" at the institution is not good enough.  She wants to see a public inquest into the violent death of Gordon Longphee.  Photo Robert Devet
Brenda Hardiman, advocate and mother of a Quest resident, believes that the announced "best practices review" at the institution is not good enough. She wants to see a public inquest into the violent death of Gordon Longphee. Photo Robert Devet

K'JIPUKTUK, HALIFAX - A public inquest into the violent death of a resident at the Quest Regional Rehabilitation Centre in Lower Sackville is not necessary.

That is what Community Services minister Joanne Bernard announced last week in a statement posted on the department's website.

Gordon James Longphee died on May 11th of this year after being attacked by a fellow resident. Police had earlier decided not to charge the 28-year old man who attacked Longphee because he was not able to form intent.

Rather than a public inquiry Bernard's department will pay for an independent review of best practices at Quest.

But the scope of that review is too narrow for Brenda Hardiman,  co-founder of Advocating Parents of Nova Scotia (APNS), a support organization for parents of children with intellectual disabilities.

Hardiman is also the mother of Nichelle Benn, a young woman who resides at Quest against her will. Benn faces assault charges for attacking a staff member of the institution.

"An inquest is necessary, because there have been two deaths at Quest in six years. The inquest needs to also include what transpires at Community Services and how they put people in places like this," Hardiman told the Halifax Media Co-op.

"There are studies that show that institutional living is not at all beneficial for residents and that there are too many resident-on-resident attacks and staff and residents abuses. So why would you put people in such an environment? An inquest might provide some answers," she said.

The Department of Community Services has committed to closing institutions and moving to an individualized and community-based approach. Just recently minister Bernard nixed a planned expansion of a Quest-like facility in Stellarton.

Nonetheless, for Hardiman and other parents the pace suggested by the department's transition roadmap is too slow and does not reflect the urgency of the situation.

Recently Hardiman learned of 12 resident-on-resident attacks at Quest that occurred within a span of barely two weeks.

"Some of these attacks happened all at once, others happened one or two at the time, but they are happening," said Hardiman.

"In the Gordon Longphee case, Quest and Community Services failed to provide him with a safe place to live and should be held accountable. Community Services continues to say that they take a backseat, that they just provide funding," she said.

"But it is Community Services that places these people in institutions, so if there are no minimum safeguards to keep these residents safe than Community Services shares a responsibility in that."

See also:

Violent death of Quest resident part of a double tragedy

Community Services Transition Roadmap hits speedbump

Parents argue that their children should not face jail

Rallies throughout Nova Scotia call for end to criminalization

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert

 


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