Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

AdChoices

Jailed for love, woman gets apology Add to ...

A woman who was jailed more than six decades ago for living with her Chinese-Canadian boyfriend has received an apology from the Ontario government.

But Velma Demerson, 82, said yesterday she still wants financial compensation for her ordeal.

"As a first step I'm pleased with it," she said of the apology, which she said she received last month from Attorney-General David Young.

In May, 1939, Ms. Demerson and her boyfriend, Harry Yip, were eating breakfast when two policemen showed up at the door and took her into custody.

A pregnant Ms. Demerson was imprisoned for about 10 months under the Female Refuges Act of 1897.

The act stated that "any parent or guardian may bring before a judge any female under the age of 21 years who proves unmanageable or incorrigible."

Until it was repealed in 1964, the law allowed women from age 16 to 35 to be jailed for behaviour such as public drunkenness, promiscuity and pregnancy out of wedlock.

Ms. Demerson's son was born during her incarceration and was later taken away from her.

She said the letter apologizes to her, Mr. Yip and her son.

"I'm writing to you on behalf of the government to apologize to you for your incarceration under the Female Refuges Act in the 1930s," Ms. Demerson quoted the letter as saying.

"In addition, the government wishes to apologize for the adverse effects your incarceration undoubtedly had on your son who was born to you while you were in custody, and to his father."

Report Typo/Error

Follow us on Twitter: @globeandmail

 

Next story

loading

Trending

loading

Most popular videos »

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular