Batshaw Youth and Family Services is coming under criticism for their alleged treatment of an Indigenous teen.
The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) is requesting the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights commission open an investigation into what they are calling mistreatment of a youth in protection last May.
“We believe that the youth was basically exposed to a cruel and unusual treatment by Batshaw,” said Fo Niemi, CRARR executive director.
The Indigenous youth, whom we will refer to as Charles, wiped away tears at a press conference Wednesday recalling his treatment at a Batshaw facility in the spring. He says he came home late from school, under the agency’s protocols that made him at risk for COVID-19.
“I think I was clearly punished coming home late from school, and I was treated like a criminal prisoner in solitary confinement,” Charles said. “It was really not about COVID-19.”
Charles says he was kept in a basement room with no windows, a bed and chair. He claimed his cellphone and computer were taken away and said there was a camera in the corner of the room making him feel “like an animal in a cage, always being watched all the time.”
His teacher, whose identity Global News is protecting, was appalled to see the youth’s living conditions when he delivered school work. The teacher says the youth wasn’t allowed fresh air for four days, and was only given a COVID test when he demanded one.
“I think that anybody with a little bit of decency would or should recognize that that is just incorrect and inhumane way to treat somebody, just period,” said the teacher.
After media outlets covered the case in May, the regional health authority conducted an internal investigation. The report claims Charles had “access to his personal computer and access to fresh airtime in the courtyard twice a day.”
Charles and his teacher say the report is full of inaccuracies so they contacted CRARR.
“We believe that Charles has his constitutional rights protected by the Canadian Charter, by the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms and by the Youth Protection Act, such as right to privacy, right to counsel, right to security of the person,” said Niemi, adding that the Quebec Human Rights Commission should investigate because “it appears that none of those rights have been respected.”
“If they read something in the media and they want to investigate, we welcome them. They come, they give recommendations, if we have improvements to make,” said CIUSSS de L’Ouest-de-l’Île Youth Program Director Katherine Moxness.
Charles says improvements should definitely be made, so no teenagers have to go through what he experienced.
“All I want is respect, I want dignity, I want security and want freedom, and I want life,” he said.