The garden honouring New Brunswick toddlers Jacqueline Brewer and John Turner is now complete at Rainbow Park in Saint John’s South End — but it’s a memorial that people in New Brunswick wish wasn’t warranted.
The two children died in 1996 of severe neglect at the hands of their parents.
“I think we needed to respect the memory of these children,” said Saint John resident Maggie Rice who attended the unveiling of the memorial on Friday.
Both Brewer and Turner were brutally abused and starved to death.
Saint John Deputy Mayor Shirley McAlary says the scars still run deep.
“I remember when it happened and how people reacted and how shocked they were and devastated,” said McAlary.
But 20 years later, children in the province continue to be victims of abuse.
At least five New Brunswick children whose families were known to protective workers have died.
Little information has been released about their deaths.
Norm Bosse, the province’s child and youth advocate, says in order to understand the problems that exist in New Brunswick, the provincial government needs to be more transparent.
Bosse has called for the public to know the age, gender and area of the province where the death occurred.
“There is still many more behind closed doors that are being abused,” said Rice.
“We need to reach out and do something so that this doesn’t happen again and again.”
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The province’s deputy premier and Minister of Families and Children, Stephen Horsman attended the ceremony and said the province will do better.
He said they are listening to recommendations made by Bosse while trying to balance privacy rights.
“We can do better we will do better and we are listening to individuals who have recommendations so that this doesn’t happen again and not to forget. We want to remember all the children so that this doesn’t happen again and we learn from it,” said Horsman.
Given the brutal way both children died, the hope is that the park will become a place of peace and reflection
The memorial garden is a joint project between PULSE and the City of Saint John. Its completion was made possible through additional funding from the Friars Sisters, B.C.A.P.I. and Heritage Memorials Ltd.