Government Trafficking in Persons:4
Ontario Training Schools

16 Dec, 2020

Wow has it ever been an interesting time. It was my intention to post throughout the 16 days of activism, but I quickly realized that was an over commitment on my end. So here’s to learning my limits and not pushing myself to do more than I can do at any time!

I wanted to share the next blog post on the ways in which the government participated on trafficking in persons. Many people aren’t aware that Ontario Training School existed or if they know they aren’t aware of what they actually were. It continues to boggle my mind while at the same time enraging me  that more people are not talking about them as the government has not made any efforts to address this legacy. Additionally, my time in social services training school survivors was not something that I remember many folks talking about.

The issue of Training Schools is near to me as my dear mum is a survivor of the Ontario Training Schools. As I continue to heal from my own trauma I further understand the systemic violence that contributed to the conditions that made me vulnerable and for me I see a direct link between the harms of the Ontario Training Schools and the human trafficking I experienced.

Ontario Training schools operated from about 1925 to around 1984. When I try to do some research on them, there are some articles but not nearly enough.  The Ontario Training Schools Act of 1931 allowed the province and churches to run jails for children as young as 8 to provide moral, educational and other interventions to children who were in poor homes, committed minor crime ( typically crimes of survival) or were unmanageable or incorrigible”.

 To summarize quickly,  the Ontario government took children living in poverty or who had behaviors associated with trauma and placed them in jails often run by the church to try and get the behaviors out of them and assimilate into “Christian” behaviors. Some tactics used to gain compliance of these  children and youth included segregation. For me the next question is how many children experienced violence, sexual assault, further neglect, and a variety of other crimes at the hands of those charged with caring for children who were already in need of support?  Well it turns out lots.  I would also wonder if many of the children that were sent to training schools were indigenous, Black, Children of colour, LGBQT2s+ children and/or children with disabilities.

There are Legislative minuets available online dating April 19th 1979 where the speaker presents information to close some of the schools in Ontario stating that “Research has questioned the necessity of institutionalization for many juvenile delinquents. Alternative types of community care have shown positive results for this type of child” and still these schools operated another 5 years.

 There was a class action lawsuit against the government of Ontario regarding one particular training school which was Grandview Training School for Girls. The government was ordered to pay and issued an apology. Then nothing????? The government never thought hmmm I wonder if this happened in the other schools???

Currently, there is a class action lawsuit being brought forward against the government for survivors of the other schools. The lawsuit is for 600 million dollars. Again, when we look at the way that this type of trauma changes the genetics of survivors and the intergenerational impacts on survivors’ families this can not be ignored. There are 2-3 generations who are still being impacted by the crimes against survivors of these jails for children.

What continues to concern me is the lack of conversation, care, and acknowledgment that these schools existed and not exceptionally long ago. As someone who is impacted by the legacy the schools left there is also a discussion  missing around the impacts of the children of survivors.
 It is my hope after reading this you might share to draw attention to the Training Schools so that those who were impacted can be aware of the upcoming lawsuit. 

The Cruelty of Benevolence: The Release of Delinquents from Ontario’s Training Schools ( 
Ontario Training Schools Class Action Given Green Light to Move Forward by the Court (
Ontario Training Schools: State Violence and New Possibilities for Reconciliation – Active History