HALIFAX – 56 year old Gordon Longphee died over the weekend after being pushed by a 28 year old man, and fellow resident of The Quest Rehibilitation Centre in Lower Sackville, NS.
“There’s a man who lost his life but really there’s another man that’s a victim as well, I mean not be aware of his own actions” said Cindy Carruthers, a member of People First Nova Scotia, a self advocacy group of members who have been labelled with an intellectual disability.
Brenda Hardiman’s daughter Nichelle Benn lives at Quest. Hardiman says she’s not surprised by the incident, and knows all too well there is violence inside the facility.
“I’m not surprised, the shock it just hits you just the same, you know. We all fear of a phone call similar to what the families received” says Hardiman.
Family members of those who live at Quest say client-on-client violence happens far too often. Quest says their facility is safe – but incidents do happen.
“Our wish would be that it would not happen at all, does it happen, yes it does happen, not usually with this kind of tragic result” added Quest CEO Laura Arthurs.
The incident wasn’t reported to police until four days after it happened, but the facility says they followed protocol. The suspect is not in custody – and has been taken out of Quest.
Police haven’t said yet if charges will be laid.
“Any crime, for any person, you have to see what the intent is, or what the capacity for a person to understand. In any case” says Scott MacRae, with the Halifax RCMP.
Government is working on a roadmap to deal with institutions for the intellectually disabled in the province , but it could be another decade before there’s change.
“10 years is far too long, you have 2 deaths in 3 years, how many more deaths are we going to have, and no it’s not acceptable. It’s too long. We want an immediate shut down” says Hardiman.
“I think we should stop institutionalizing these people because the people don’t want to be together or they don’t want to live in the group home, so they should not have to be forced to stay together” added Charlie Lemon, who was institutionalized in the 1970’s.
People First Nova Scotia is planning protests in front of all 5 institutions in Nova Scotia.