From The Gazette


As Supreme Court decides whether to hear Dorval’s case against Batshaw, centre opens its doors to media

  • Linda Corbeil displays plans for the centre's new locked facility.
    Linda Corbeil displays plans for the centre's new locked facility.
    Photo credit: Pierre Obendrauf, The Gazette

The future of Batshaw’s plans to expand its youth protection centre in Dorval is now in the hands of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On Monday, lawyers for Batshaw Youth and Family Centres filed a response to a deposition submitted Oct. 23 by the city of Dorval asking the Supreme Court to hear its case against Batshaw.

The court is expected to announce its decision on whether the case will go ahead in the new year.

Batshaw’s plan to expand its 42-bed facility on Dawson Ave. to include two new 12-bed locked or closed units has been an issue in Dorval for close to a decade. During that time, the idea has been met with widespread apprehension from residents fearful that a facility for young offenders would bring barbed-wire fences, increased crime and other problems to their neighbourhood.


Until this week, however, Batshaw officials have been fairly tight-lipped about the actual proposal to create new locked units that would replace those now located at the agency’s aging facility in Prévost, north of Montreal.

On Monday, Batshaw officials opened the doors of the Dorval centre to the media, inviting a Gazette photographer and a reporter to tour the facility and to get a glimpse of drawings of the proposed expansion.

“We have not been very good at public relations,” Linda Corbeil, Batshaw’s director of finance and administration, said.

She said the agency has decided to adopt a more open approach in the hope of dispelling fear and of correcting what she and other Batshaw officials called “misinformation” about the new facility.

For starters, Corbeil said, “There will be no barbed wire.”

“It was never in the plans,” Claire Roy, Bat-shaw’s communication director said. “We don’t know where that information came from.”

The youth protection centre now consists of four adjoining residential units – Oasis, Ste. Rose, Baillie and Crossroads – that are wrapped around a square-shaped outdoor courtyard.

The newest of those four units, Crossroads, renovated in 2008, accommodates boys and girls, ages 6 to 12, in a homey setting designed to promote a sense of belonging. Handwritten nameplates adorn each of the nine bedroom doors along one side of a corridor that is monitored 24-7 from a booth at the end of the hall, and common rooms for games, television watching and group therapy.

The proposed expansion calls for two new units similar to Crossroads in design and function, but that would be monitored more closely – by three instead of two staff for every 10 to 12 residents – and residents would not be allowed to leave the facility to attend local schools, unlike the children and at-risk youth in the open facility.

The two new two-storey closed units would not be visible from Dawson Ave. and would be located at the rear of the building where the 10-bed Ste. Rose unit, the oldest Dorval unit, is now located. The Ste-Rose unit would be torn down.

Residents in the locked units, like those in the open units, would be able to access the outside through doors that, when unlocked, lead to the building’s courtyard. The closed-unit residents would be limited to a separate, enclosed green space with a 3.5-metre-high-perimeter fence made of double-mesh wire that is impossible to climb, Corbeil said.

Pascale Berardino, Bat-shaw’s co-ordinator of legal services, said clients in the new locked facility could include youth who have been found guilty of violent crimes and sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). Could that include a murderer? “The answer is yes,” Berardino said.

But she noted a youth criminal can be transferred to an adult facility under Section 92 of the YCJA, a likely scenario “in cases where a young offender is very criminalized and he or she would not benefit from the re-adaption program.”

A different scenario, she said, would be a teenage boy who has been found guilty of killing his father after years of sexual abuse. Batshaw’s programs are designed to help children and youth heal from a wide range of traumas they have endured, and then to reintegrate into their home communities and families if possible.

On Monday, Jason Vickers, a Batshaw program manager at a locked facility in Laval, said more often than not it is the clients they see that need protecting.

Often they have developed self-harming behaviours to deal with painful lives that include physical and sexual abuse, and neglect.

To read editor Brenda O’Farrell’s blog on this issue, click here.


  1. By doesntmatter

    These type of facilities should not be in crowded suburbs, they should be out in the middle of no where(like the facility already in Prévost), perhaps even more remote than that. These places are for offenders. People who make a conscious decision to break the law. They are there to be punished, not coddled. Why oh why do we keep bending over backwards to accommodate criminals who spit on our laws. These kids need to be shown that there are consequences to their actions, it’s bad enough they go to a place like this were it’s like a summer camp and they can play video games all day. They should open up a new wing in Bordeaux and throw them all in there, problem solved.

  2. By Frustrated!

    Encore! Encore! Beautiful presentation here by Batshaw. WHAT A JOKE! Do you think that the 5000 who have signed the petition are all completely STUPID!! There are Batshaw employees as well that are opposed to this prison being in the middle of a city!!!

    I found this post interesting particularly the one by B Hiscock! Might be worth a read:

    By B Hiscock
    On November 2, 2012 at 3:09 am
    Wow, KitKat is ON FIRE HERE. Hey, listen up. What’s with the guilt card about children, children and more children? This is NOT about the children. Its about an agency which truly believes that they are (1) unstoppable, (2) supreme and (3) untouchable. ….

    I am seriously concerned about any planned expansion of this agency – especially in Dorval. Batshaw carries out their business ALWAYS claiming that SILENCE is necessary – this in order to protect the confidentiality of the users. I’ve spoken to many a users of this agency – and they all appear to have the same opinion: This agency DOES NOT NEGOTIATE WITH ANYONE WHATSOEVER. They are backed by the government and they have about 20+ attorneys working for them. So, do they listen to us when we speak? No!

    Anyone, anyone at all – working or not for Batshaw and who comes online and uses children as an excuse to try to get pity and remorse from individuals should remember one thing. The SHAFIA children…… remember the Shafia sisters…. who Batshaw was clearly told were suffering terrible abuse both psychologically and physically at home?

    Yes, batshaw closed their files and the young girls were thereafter murdered by their family. Yes, the same family who Batshaw was told by school officials WERE ABUSING THE GIRLS AT HOME. I couldn’t believe it when I saw Madeleine Berard – Batshaw youth and family centers DIRECTOR OF YOUTH PROTECTION – on TV….. stating that “it was a pity that Batshaw didn’t know about HONOR CRIMES beforehand”.

    What the heck does Honor Crimes have to do with the fact that Batshaw was clearly advised that these young girls were being terribly abused at home by their family members? NOTHING. If they would have drowned and died…. WOULD BATSHAW HAVE SAID “too bad we didn’t know about drowning beforehand?” NO!

    I keep seeing people put posts here and use the kids / children / youth as an excuse to try to extract empathy from us the citizens of Dorval.


    ITS’ ABOUT A RIGID, …… UNCOMMUNICATIVE……. BULLYING……… PROUD AND SAD AGENCY – WHO JUST KEEPS DIGGING A HOLE BIGGER AND BIGGER FOR ITSELF…… instead of coming off its high horse and treating people like human beings – which would most certainly find a quick and acceptable resolution to the present situation.

    WHEN AN AGENCY LAWFULLY MANDATED TO PROTECT CHILDREN – puts its pride before the best interests of the children……. ITS TIME TO START WORRYING FOR REAL!

  3. I’m guessing doesn’t matter doesn’t care much for the concept of rehabilitation. It could be a long discussion to assess why adults who break the law and youth are very different. Quebec certainly is a more leniant system compared to the states or other provinces. Until that changes though we do believe youth still have a chance of being more than juct the result of very poor choices they have made. Yes they should be accountable (thus the locked doors) but it seems a little early in their lives to say there is no hope of rehabilitation. Living in a society that believes that scares me a little. Doesntmatter scares me a little…even if it is a normal reactive opinion to be concerned about all our safety. Rahabilitating youth in the community they come from likely makes it a safer place to be in the end.

    • By Frustrated!

      “Rehabilitating youth in the community they come from” or “A vast majority of Batshaw kids come from the West Island. It is sad that the community they come from is unwilling to take care of them” or “If we as a society are not willing to do our part for our own communities kids” ……… so sick and tired of hearing this especially from people who MOST probably don’t even live in Dorval to begin with! Or anywhere close to the facility! First of all, I would really like to know HOW many of the youths stationed at the Dorval facility right now are ACTUALLY from Dorval! And how many of the criminal youths who will be stationed in the closed custody unit will be from Dorval. The last time I looked, Dorval does not make up the ENTIRE West Island. So please stop this guilty bull about how it is OUR responsibility as to Dorvalians to accept this prison that is being forced upon us! MY RESPONSIBILITY ARE MY CHILDREN and not someone else’s. If you think it’s such a great idea, then have it in your own back yard since everyone seems to think that this is a ‘NOT IN MY BACKYARD’ attitude! Damn right it isn’t because no one wants this in their cozy little city that’s why EVERYONE’s hoping it will be in Dorval.
      No one is disputing the rehabilitation process EVEN THOUGH there are serious issues with it! No one is disputing the current facility that is there right now! We don’t want a locked down facility that will house criminal youths who have been found guilty of violent crimes and sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act , such as MURDER, right in the middle of our city. Batshaw has options to go somewhere else. The rehabilitation process doesn’t make it less successful if they do!

  4. Chris, your humanity is most admirable however there are a few things to keep in mind; this facility is not simply for children from the West Island but for English speaking offenders. In addition, these are individuals guilty of violent crimes, not stealing a car for a joy ride, not selling drugs but violent crimes. By the time a young person actually ends up with “time” in a facility for violent offenders, the litany of offenses is long. Quebec is a firm believer in rehabilitation but sociopathy and psychopathic behaviours cannot be cured. There is no rehabilitating the sociopath. The children already at the center need to be there, what they don’t need is the stress of knowing these violent offenders are housed in the same vicinity. Let’s not forget the allure these sociopaths represent to the victimized child – you can see the allure in the adult world vis a vis the gangs. Their members are not children who have a sense of community, their members are children who have been victimized themselves, often by grown up sociopaths. No. Dorval central is not the place for these types of offenders. They have no sense of community except as a potential feeding ground. No, it is not their fault but the safety and security of the majority must take precedence here. A facility placed away from the stress of temptation and let’s face it, opportunity, would be in these offenders best interest as well as the community’s best interest.

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