LOWER SACKVILLE - Lori Watkins was amongst a small crowd protesting outside the Quest Regional Rehabilitation Centre on Sunday afternoon to call for community-based living for those with intellectual disabilities because she said ‚Äúthey all deserve better.‚ÄĚ
© Metro Halifax/Jeff Harper
Quest supporters, left, debate with protestors outside Quest Rehabilitation Centre in Sackville.
About 25 people carrying signs such as ‚ÄúInstitutions aren‚Äôt solutions‚ÄĚ and chanting ‚Äúpeople first‚ÄĚ gathered in front of the Lower Sackville facility as part of a provincial protest by Advocating Parents of Nova Scotia.
Watkins said her 16-year-old daughter Alison, who was also at the protest, is on the autism spectrum and lives at home.
‚ÄúShe‚Äôs still a human being and she still has a right to choices in her day-to-day life,‚ÄĚ Watkins said, adding they plan meals together while Alison likes gardening.
‚ÄúHere you are told when you eat, you are told when you go to bed,‚ÄĚ Watkins added. ‚ÄúAlison deserves better than that ‚Ä¶ they all deserve better.‚ÄĚ
Brenda Hardiman, whose daughter Nichele Benn lives at Quest, said the protest was in response to the death of resident Gordon Longphee last month. Police say he was pushed by another Quest resident and they are treating the death as a homicide.
Hardiman said the government needs an ‚Äúimmediate action plan‚ÄĚ to start closing ‚Äúinstitutions‚ÄĚ in Nova Scotia, in favour of small option homes where four or five people can live together in a community with assistance.
However not everyone agrees.
Yvonne Meuse said her ‚Äúseverely autistic‚ÄĚ son loves living at the Quest facility, and the protestor‚Äôs had ‚Äúgot it so wrong‚ÄĚ by calling Quest an institution.
‚ÄúThey work with my son everyday. My son can go into public now,‚ÄĚ Meuse said as the group walked around her chanting on Sunday. ‚ÄúMy son‚Äôs quality of life is so much better than it ever was.‚ÄĚ
Meuse said the rehab centre shouldn‚Äôt be closed because staff help residents get to a point where they can move into smaller homes.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôre saying that people don‚Äôt have a right to put them in these rehabilitation centres, but what about the rights of my son that‚Äôs in there and he loves it?‚ÄĚ Meuse said.