Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut July 10, 2014 - 1:01 pm

For a second time, Nunavut org asks Ontario for inquiry into Inuit child’s injuries

Nunavut-born Joshua Salmonson suffered burn injuries at Ontario school for the blind

A view of residences at the W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind in Brantford, Ont. (GOOGLE EARTH IMAGE)
A view of residences at the W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind in Brantford, Ont. (GOOGLE EARTH IMAGE)

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. has asked the Ontario government to hold a public inquiry into the treatment of a blind and disabled Inuit child who suffered injuries at the Ontario school he was attending.

NTI president Cathy Towntogie sent a letter to Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne July 8, requesting the province look into a 2010 incident in which Nunavut-born Joshua Salmonson, now in his teens, suffered burn injuries at the W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind in Brantford, Ont.

In late 2011, the boy’s parents, Paul and Rebecca Salmonson, filed a statement of claim in Ontario Superior Court against the W. Ross MacDonald School, the Ontario ministry of education, the Children’s Aid Society of Brantford and the Brantford Police Service.

Their statement of claim alleges that in January 2010, after bringing their son back home to Ottawa for a visit, they found open sores on their son’s buttocks caused by burns they say could only have been inflicted at the Ross MacDonald School.

A doctor at an Appletree clinic in Ottawa said the injuries were three to four days old, which means they must have occurred at the school, the statement of claim said.

But the school did not report the injuries to the Salmonsons and has not disclosed to them the results of their own investigation, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also said the child, who was 11 at the time, suffered permanent scarring and that staff at the Ross MacDonald School used excessive restraining methods and damaged the boy’s face by using “inappropriate tooth-brushing methods.”

“Based on (these) and many other facts contained in the… statement of claim, it apparent that a thorough, speedy and effective public inquiry into the Joshua Salmonson matter is warranted, and indeed, is necessary in the public interest,” read the NTI letter.

This is not the first time NTI has made the request; Nunavut’s land claims organization wrote in 2012 to then-Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty calling for an inquiry.

A 2013 response from Ontario’s Attorney General’s office said that public inquiries are not used “to examine individual cases when there are existing, effective avenues of review.”

“With respect, it is NTI’s view that there have been no existing, effective avenues of review for this matter,” NTI’s letter said.

The Salmonsons, who now live in Nova Scotia, have said they can no longer afford to pay for lawyers and that legal aid officials in Ontario and Nova Scotia have told them they do not have the resources to handle such a large file.

The civil action continues to navigate through the justice system “at an extremely slow pace,” NTI said, and “has exhausted the financial resources of the Salmonson family.”

“In any event, the civil action would be structurally inadequate in bringing about the truth and justice that the Salmonson family deserves and in restoring public confidence in WRMS,” the letter continues.

This is not the first time the Salmonsons have gone to court on behalf of their child.

In 2006, Justice Earl Johnson ordered the Government of Nunavut to continue paying the cost of health treatment for the boy including an essential nutritional supplement called Pediasure.

GN health officials had cut that funding in December 2004, but without the Pediasure, the Salmonson family said the boy suffered malnutrition and rapid weight loss.

Ironically, the GN eventually agreed to arrangements, starting in 2006, that saw the boy begin care at the Ross MacDonald School.

While the Salmonsons filed their own statement of claim, in 2012, a separate class action was filed in connection with injuries and mistreatment allegedly suffered by students at WRMS dating back to the 1950s and 1960s.

“We are confident that a public inquiry would bring about positive changes at WRMS and be useful in preventing future injury to the most vulnerable members of our society,” NTI said.

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(4) Comments:

#1. Posted by Take action on the abuse right here at home on July 11, 2014

Maybe when they finish with that, Nunavut Tunngavik could do something about all the kids abused right here at home in Nunavut.

Seriously.  By all means look into this terrible case, but it’s interesting to see little action on the abuse done in Nunavut, because it’s so much more satisfying to focus on cases where outsiders were involved, especially when it happened outside the territory.

Kids are abused right here, right now.  It’s not an inquiry that’s needed, either.  It’s action.  Whaddaya say, Nunavut Tunngavik?  Can you help?

#2. Posted by Jackson on July 11, 2014

Fully in agreement with #1. Not sure how many, if any of the responsible really care about children being in neglected, abused, drugs & alcohol crowed homes. We tried and tried to get someone anyone to listen to us. All we get is the run around and the child is still in a home that is not good for the child. To us, from the lack of any support, the child is just another file. Well NOT TO US. Not sure what else to do other than possibly hiring a lawyer. Our situation is but one example.

#3. Posted by A child is a NOTHING in Nunavut - right NTI? on July 11, 2014

NTI President, Kathy wishes to look the other way, point fingers at the south then instead look and point the same finger at herself about children here in Nunavut.

The bigotry towards gay’s told a very sad tale how human life is not valued.

NTI, Cathy continues to be lips locked shut about the outrageous number (over 80%) who smoke while pregnant during full term and after child born.
Not a word of concern.

The high number of little kids who go to school off and on, seriously harming their education also not a concern to NTI.

The high number of toddlers with teeth capped or pulled again not a concern.  Nunavut day candy toss showed the total lack of concern, almost saying let em be in pain, poor health.

Child sexual abuse, sexual trade a concern if happening in Nunavut?

A child in Nunavut, guess to NTI is a nothing, a nobody or an object.

#4. Posted by But THERE is a existing avenue.... on July 11, 2014

Is this case exactly the sort of reason the the new Nunavut Representative for Children and Youth was put in place? When will they start a public campaign about what services are provided through their office and what their contact information is?? And gosh wouldn’t it be nice to have a little investigative journalism instead of just reporting what you’re told???

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