A Newfoundland man who spent almost two years of his childhood locked in solitary confinement arrived in Ottawa on Sept. 11 to raise awareness of the province being one of the last to remove its statute of limitations for child abuse.
When he was 13 years old, Jack Whalen was sentenced to four years in Newfoundland's Whitbourne Detention Centre resulting from a physical altercation with another boy. For 703 days of Mr. Whalen's sentence, he was confined to a tiny cell in solitary confinement.
"Even to this day, I'm still trying to process what happened to me. It's painful to think about it and talk about it. It's just unbelievable," Mr. Whalen said.
"87 consecutive days before I stopped counting," reads a message painted on the side of the replica jail cell Mr. Whalen created.
He said New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador are the only provinces in Canada that still have a statute of limitations for child abuse. The remaining provinces have amended the law, allowing victims of all childhood abuse to come forward at any time.
But because Mr. Whalen's abuse was not of a sexual nature, he was excluded from the settlement.
In June, Mr. Whalen parked his truck outside the Confederation Building in St. John's, in protest. He then travelled to New Brunswick, then to Ottawa, and will soon return to his home province.
Mr. Whalen said four or five MPs stated they will raise the issue of the statute of limitations in the House of Assembly.
"I'm hoping they will change the law then, and that it will make it easier. I've been trying to do something about this for five years now, but I haven't stepped foot in a courtroom," he said.
"If they change the law and make Newfoundland and New Brunswick like the rest of Canada, then I'm hoping this can be resolved and I can go ahead with my court case and see what happens."