Warning: This story contains some details that may be painful for readers.
New Democrats Mumilaaq Qaqqaq and Charlie Angus called on Attorney General David Lametti to investigate Canada’s “crimes against humanity” after they discovered an unmarked cemetery at the site of a former boarding school.
The parliamentarians stated that Rametti must appoint an independent prosecutor who has the power to take those who abuse children in boarding schools to court.
“Enough. Indigenous people need truth and justice,” Kakak said at a press conference this morning.
During OPP’s investigation of St Anne’s Indian Boarding School in northern Ontario, Lavoie was named among more than 300 allegations of physical and sexual abuse. He died in 1991.
Rivoire, originally from France, was charged with a sexual crime related to his time in Naujaat and Rankin Inlet in the 1960s.
In 1998, five years after his return to France, the RCMP issued an arrest warrant against him.For nearly two decades, the Nunavuts have been pushing for the extradition of Riva from the country
“The abuse in his hands has caused trauma for generations,” Kakak said.
Two years ago, the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Canada (PPSC) stated that an assessment of the Rivoire case in 2017 found that “these allegations no longer have a reasonable prospect of conviction”.
Kakak said: “Riva did not accept justice for his crimes, but lived a luxurious retirement in the priest’s house… and the federal agencies did nothing about this.”
Members of Congress hope that the special prosecutor has the right to seek advice from the International Criminal Court, subpoena documents provided by the federal government and church agencies, and make these documents public.
“Dare you tell me you can’t do this”
Kakak called Rametti directly.
“Minister Rametti, dare you tell me you can’t do this. You have the power. You just refused to use it. Today must end,” she said.
Qaqqaq stated that the investigation should not be limited to boarding schools, but should be extended to other institutions, such as federal day schools, which are operated separately from boarding schools but run by many of the same groups.
The federal government has pledged to provide $27 million to help aboriginal communities determine cemeteries. Indigenous Services Minister Mark Miller recently stated that USD amount will increase.
But the government has not yet promised to conduct an independent investigation of what happened at the boarding school.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission did review and report on the history and legacy of the Canadian boarding school system. Angus said this was just the first step.
“(The Truth and Reconciliation Commission) has no mission to pursue justice and hunt down perpetrators. Canadians and Aboriginal communities are calling for justice,” he said.
How to get help
Anyone affected by the boarding school experience and those affected by the latest report can get support.
A nationwide Indian boarding school crisis hotline has been set up to provide support to boarding school survivors and those affected. People can call the 24-hour national crisis hotline: 1-866-925-4419 for emotional and crisis referral services.