The memorial forms part of the government’s response to the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry after a citizens’ panel – that includes survivors of child abuse – recommended that a memorial be erected as part of a legacy project to acknowledge victims and their families.
The 2017 inquiry report laid bare a catalogue of failings in Jersey’s care system over many decades which allowed abuse of children to be perpetrated and go undetected.
The designs are on display at Private & Public’s gallery in Phillips Street from today until Saturday, between 10am and 6pm each day. Islanders will be able to visit the gallery to see the designs as well as viewing them online.
The citizens’ panel would like to hear Islanders’ views about the designs before the final choice is announced in November.
A spokesperson for the panel said: ‘We were delighted with the quality of the submissions we received for the memorial competition. We are looking forward to the public exhibition and we will be taking the public’s comments on the designs into consideration when we make our final decision.’
Children’s Minister Sam Mézec said he hoped the memorial would ‘become a permanent focus for reflection and represent our enduring promise to Jersey’s children that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated’ and urged Islanders to share their views on the designs.
In February, it was agreed that £200,000 would be put aside for a memorial at the Weighbridge to those who suffered abuse within Jersey’s care system.
However, a petition calling for that decision to be reversed garnered almost 3,000 signatures, with some arguing that the memorial would act as a painful remainder of traumatic childhood experiences in Jersey’s care homes.
Responding to those who opposed the plans, Senator Mézec said: ‘I ask them to come and see it. Beforehand we were talking about the concept whereas now we are talking about reality – what this may look like, what it might reflect and get a much better idea of what people will think about it.
‘This is not meant to be something that upsets people, it’s meant to be something that does the opposite. The people who came up with this idea were people who have been through the system themselves and know how important it is, and people can come and have a look – they can give us feedback, and that’s ultimately a more constructive way to have their voice heard than a petition.’
In the States Assembly this week St Saviour Constable Sadie Le Sueur-Rennard asked the Children’s Minister why he was ‘hell bent’ on having a memorial to the Island’s abuse survivors, despite thousands signing a petition against it.
The Constable said: ‘A petition was signed and we are ignoring it.
‘Does he not feel for once we should listen to people at the sharp end of what was going on?’
In response, Senator Mézec said it was one of his biggest regrets as minister that people don’t understand all parts of the project.
He said there had been misinformation about the project and its intention, before adding that he acknowledged the split opinion but to shelve the idea would be betraying the survivors who called for it.
He added: ‘There is no way of knowing that those who signed the petition are indeed the people concerned.
‘May I remind her of the serious point that the Citizens’ Panel who put forward this proposal for a legacy, themselves have been through the care system and some, who I am aware of, had a rotten time going through it.
‘What the Constable is asking me to do is to betray those people because of people who signed a petition on something different.’
The memorial will be erected in one of two possible places at the Weighbridge, with work anticipated to begin in 2021 before it is unveiled on Jersey Children’s Day, 3 July 2022.