TORONTO (ONTARIO, CANADA)
November 24, 2020
By Julia Page
A class-action lawsuit launched against a Catholic religious order in 2018 has grown from the initial 30 Innu claimants on Quebec’s Lower North Shore to 190 Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from across Quebec.
Allegations of sexual abuse by priests with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate initially surfaced during the federal inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG).
Those allegations have now multiplied across several First Nations, where the clergy tried to “silence repeated sexual assaults it was well aware of,” according to court documents submitted to Quebec Superior Court, in the request for authorization for the class action.
[Photo caption: Several priests in this photo, taken in the 1980s in the Sept-Îles region, have been named in the class action suit against the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. (Submitted by Institut Tshakapesh)]
The inquiry’s stop in Mani-Utenam in November 2017, an Innu community near Sept-Îles, on Quebec’s North Shore, revealed decades of alleged abuse against Innu children and women living in Unamen Shipu and Pakua Shipu, on the province’s Lower North Shore.
Alexis Joveneau, a Belgian priest who arrived in the region in the 1950s, held a tight grip on the Innu communities where he worked, until his death in 1992.
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