Founder of Lennon House 'shocked' she was fired as centre's executive director

Dianne Young said she was 'blindsided' by the firing but she plans to continue advocating for people in recovery.  (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
Dianne Young said she was 'blindsided' by the firing but she plans to continue advocating for people in recovery. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

Dianne Young says she felt things were going well right up until the day she was told she would no longer be the executive director of Lennon Recovery House and was no longer allowed on the property.

Young said she was just finalizing delivery details for new tiny homes that would let Lennon House provide housing to people who'd been through its addictions program when board members and a newly hired HR person met with her and told her she was being removed from her job

She said she was blindsided.

"I just did not expect this and it was just not right, any way you look at it," said Young, who fundraised for and founded Lennon House in memory of her son. "It was all so very fast — and brutal, really."

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

Young said she was handed a letter detailing eight different complaints about her management of the Rustico facility.

"In, like, 10 minutes, I was terminated, I was disciplined and then I was offered another position," she said.

Young believes labour laws were not followed, saying her behaviour wasn't written up in any way or addressed with her before the meeting at which her job was terminated.

She gave CBC News a copy of the termination letter she was handed. Among other things, it says she had not complied with Lennon House policies and procedures — many of which she had written — and had demonstrated unprofessional conduct.

Board, staff say Lennon House will continue

CBC News spoke with acting board president Ronnie Nicholson, who confirmed Young was fired from the job but would not go into any details about why, citing legal reasons. He declined to give an interview, but did say Lennon House would continue with its mission of helping vulnerable clients.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

Nicholson also confirmed the board offered Young a different job she could do from a remote location, as Lennon House's housing co-ordinator and fundraiser. Young agreed that happened, but said there was no followup with any details about the alternate job.

Interim executive director Shannon Plouffe, who has worked at the home for four years, told CBC News that Young is to be commended for her advocacy work and what she accomplished in setting up the home.

"She is obviously the reason Lennon House is here," said Plouffe. "She certainly was the face of Lennon House."

We all believe in her vision of a peer-supported organization, community-run, where we can just offer supportive after-care to people. — Shannon Plouffe

She added: "We all believe in her vision of a peer-supported organization, community-run, where we can just offer supportive after-care to people."

Plouffe said she wasn't involved in the termination process but confirmed interviews have been underway to find a new executive director.

"We're very happy to continue in the work that we know that we can do," she said, adding that 19 residents are currently being cared for at the 27-bed home, and programs are going well.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

Four new tiny homes are expected to be ready for use on the Lennon House acreage by the spring, serving as transitional housing for people graduating from the Lennon House residency program, Plouffe said.

Future fundraising a concern

Both the board president and Plouffe said Young brought in significant donations for the centre over the years, and there is some concern about not having that revenue in the future.

The board said the province provides Lennon House with $936,000 every year, and fundraising usually provides about $200,000.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

The Department of Health and Wellness also confirmed additional funding was provided to hire an external consultant to assist in completing an HR review at Lennon House in 2021.

A spokesperson said the province was not involved in the operations of Lennon House or its services.

Committed to addictions recovery 

Young started the Lennon House Recovery Association in 2017, with the home opening in April 2020.

The home is named after her son, Lennon Waterman, who struggled with psychosis and addictions before dying due to suicide in 2013.


In the wake of his death, Young became a prominent advocate for better addictions treatment on the Island. She also ran in the 2015 provincial election as a Progressive Conservative candidate.

"If there was a Lennon House when Lennon was alive, I think Lennon would still be alive," she said.

"Lennon House has saved lives and I just hope it will continue to do so,"

She said it's particularly heart-wrenching to her that she is not allowed inside Lennon House.

Plans for the future

However, she intends to continue advocating for people with addictions and is already thinking of other projects she can tackle.

For example, she said she's looking at trying to set up a tiny home village somewhere on the Island, as well as smaller recovery homes in P.E.I. communities other than Rustico.

"In my mind I'm thinking a five-bedroom house would be so much easier to manage," she said.

"I would like to see more recovery homes in and around Prince Edward Island."