Province introduces Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children Restorative Inquiry

A restorative inquiry into the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children aims to bring government and community together to examine the effects of systemic and institutional abuse and racism, and to work together to build better relationships.

Premier Stephen McNeil joined former home residents, home board members and community organizations on June 12, to introduce the terms of reference for the inquiry. Participants signed a statement of commitment to show support for, and commitment to, the goals of the inquiry.

"I'm excited about this opportunity to create genuine change in Nova Scotia," said Tony Smith, co-chair of VOICES, the organization representing former residents. "While the past has been painful, we don't just want to look back. We want to make a real difference for the future."  

The inquiry will be overseen by a council of parties that includes representatives from government, former residents, the home board, and African Nova Scotian community members.

"This restorative inquiry was designed by the people most affected," said Premier McNeil. "We are committed to working hand-in-hand as we address the hard issues together. We want to come out of this not simply with recommendations, but stronger relationships that will help us create lasting change together."

The restorative inquiry will take place throughout the province in a model similar to a truth and reconciliation process. A trained facilitation team will help former residents and others participate in a safe way, with a commitment to doing no further harm.

A reflection and action task group of government and community partners will meet throughout the process to review what has been learned and begin implementing next steps.

"We don't have to wait until the end of the inquiry to act," said Premier McNeil. "As it progresses, government and community will work together on what we can begin to do right now to make a difference for the future."

Members of the council and task group will be selected in the coming weeks with input from all parties involved. The restorative inquiry is expected to begin in the fall and will have a mandate of up to two and a half years.

Full terms of reference are available at http://restorativeinquiry.ca .

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