In the News April 1
Residential School Survivors Pursue Cause of Justice
Inuit Seek to Bring Perpetrators of Residential School Abuse to Justice
The Inuit delegation that met with Pope Francis on March 28 stated in a press conference that they had had a productive meeting with the Pope. The delegation was led by Natan Obed, President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national Inuit organization advancing the rights and interests of the Inuit in Canada.
In his comments Mr. Obed said that the delegation emphasized the importance of a Papal apology for the crimes of the Catholic Church. They invited the Pope to Nunavut to deliver his apology. Also raised was the need for reparations for the victims, including the rest of the $25 million that the Catholic Church pledged, and asked the Pope to take action on this. A third request was for the Pope to intervene to bring to justice former Oblate priest Johannes Rivoire who is living free in France. Rivoire is accused of sexually abusing many Inuit children over three decades before fleeing to France, a country that does not extradite its citizens to Canada.
Mr. Obed hoped that the Pope’s intervention will bring the priest to Canada to face charges and be a starting point to gaining justice for the victims of similar sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic Church officials during the period of the residential schools and since.
Martha Greig, also a member of the Inuit delegation which met the Pope, said that there were many people she works with who are also survivors of the trauma of residential school. She pointed out that the Inuit children were raised on the land by their families. Their forced removal to residential schools to “make them white” has caused a great deal of anger among the residential school survivors she works with. They are not prepared to let the Church off the hook, she said, but that an apology from the Pope would be a start.
In his concluding remarks Obed said that the Inuit number over 65,000 people living in 52 small communities now engaged with a global power [the Vatican] in a fight for justice, as well as the right of the Inuit to respect and self-determination. This fight continues, he said.
(With files from CTV, Nunavut News. Photo: ITK)
Renewal Update, posted April 1, 2022.