Current Problems

Justice (25-42)

Inuit organization calls for inquiry into how Canada handled fugitive priest

March 21, 2024

NTI says authorities knew for decades what Johannes Rivoire was accused of doing to children.

Kilikvak Kabloona says her Inuit organization wants a public inquiry into allegations of child sexual abuse against a French priest. Photo: APTN file 

APTN News: A major Inuit organization is slamming a Catholic order’s review of child sexual assault allegations, and calling for a public inquiry into clergy abuse in Nunavut.

“We denounce the report,” said Kilikvak Kabloona, CEO of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), an Inuit advocacy agency based in Iqaluit. “The (complainants) went to the police 31 years ago.

“By their own report the Catholics have known that Rivoire was being investigated by the police 25 years ago.”

The report, released Tuesday, was produced for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Lacombe by retired Quebec Superior Court judge André Denis.

The Oblates hired Denis to review their handling of sexual assault allegations against French priest Johannes Rivoire, who served as a missionary in Nunavut between 1963 and 1993.

Read More:

Retired judge concludes Catholic priest Rivoire sexually abused children in Nunavut

In an interview with APTN in 2022, Rivoire denied the allegations from five complainants who say he sexually assaulted them as children between 1968 and 1979.

The accusations have not been tested in court.

Based on the “preponderance of evidence” rather than proof beyond a reasonable doubt, Denis concluded Rivoire was guilty and hid the abuse allegations from his Oblate superiors.

Denis said NTI did not take part in his report.

Kabloona told APTN News her group had good reason.

Read More: 

Critic says Catholic report about French priest is ‘not justice’

“We did not participate in this because it needs to be open, transparent and independent. It cannot be the institution investigating itself,” she said.

Rivoire, who is 93 and living in an Oblate nursing home in Lyon, France, left Canada before police would charge him and refuses to return. The French government won’t extradite him despite requests from Canada and pleas from Inuit.

Also, Inuit leaders and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have appealed to Pope Francis to intervene. The Oblates say they ordered Rivoire to face the charges but have been unable to kick him out of their order.

That is why Kabloona said NTI has asked the federal government’s Department of Public Safety to conduct a public inquiry into the history of clergy abuse in Nunavut and the institutions that are supposed to protect Inuit children.

“We have a number of outstanding questions,” she said. “The Canadian government and the Catholics have had this knowledge for decades and have not acted on it.

Johannes Rivoire laughs during an exclusive interview with APTN News in 2022. Photo: Agustin Lucardi for APTN News

“The complete absence of justice is unacceptable.”

APTN’s request for comment was redirected to Crown-Indigenous Services from Public Safety. However, a response was not received before this story was published.

Nunavut RCMP charged Rivoire with sexual abuse involving four children in 1998. The Justice Department stayed those charges in 2017 citing lack of cooperation from France.

RCMP laid another charge involving a new complainant in 2022.

Rivoire is not the only Oblate accused of committing sex crimes involving Inuit children.

Defrocked priest Eric Dejaeger of Belgium was guilty of more than 30 counts of sexual abuse from when he was stationed in Nunavut between 1974 and 1989.

Kabloona said the impact of those crimes continues to reverberate across the northern territory.

“It’s become increasingly clear to us that that abuse is a significant root of trauma in Nunavut,” she said, “and the absence of justice has inflamed this trauma.”

Nunavut, with 25 far-flung communities not connected by roads, is one of four areas in Canada Inuit call home.

Contribute Button
Continue Reading

Higher temperatures mean higher food and other prices


Kathleen Martens,