10 of 27 Jesuits ‘credibly accused’ of abusing minors worked at a residential school or First Nations

CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) [Toronto, Canada]

March 17, 2023

By Ka’nhehsí:io Deer


More than a third of Jesuits who are “credibly accused” of sexual abuse of minors worked in First Nations or at the Spanish Indian Residential School in Spanish, Ontario.

The religious order released a list of names on Monday, along with the places they were assigned to work, as part of an effort to be more transparent and accountable.

Of the 27 priests and brothers named, 10 worked in residential schools in Spanish and/or First Nations communities.

“I look at the list. I’m glad it’s an opening but it says credible allegation,” said Rina Diabo, chair of the finance administration committee at St. Francis Xavier Mission in Kanawha:k, Kaniankeha:ka (Mohawk) of Montreal. community in the South.

Father Henri Lalonde, one of the priests named, was appointed to the mission between 1967 and 1969. He was also involved in the mission’s singing beginning in the 1930s until at least 1972. He died in 1974.

Diabo said, “I’m sure there are people who have been abused by this priest who are not part of those credible allegations. There are many more.”

The Jesuits say Lalonde had several allegations against him, but did not say how many were linked to his time in Kahnawake:K.

The list is the result of an audit of the religious order by the King International Advisory Group, a third-party risk assessment organization, that looked into allegations of abuse by members dating back to the 1950s.

CBC News has not independently verified the allegations against the priests.

Diabo, who knew the audit was about to happen, said releasing it online — without giving affected communities notice — felt insensitive.

“I hoped for at least a heads-up so that we can prepare our congregation and community,” she said.

“Given that he has acted with truth and reconciliation and he knows how to trigger people… people need to feel that they can come forward with their grievances or allegations And it doesn’t look like they’re going to be attacked.”

Michael Murray, Norman Hinton, and John Neville O’Neill were assigned to work in several First Nations in Ontario, including the Wikmaqong Unsettled Territory, the M’chigeng First Nation, the Kiashke Zajing Anishinaabe, as well as the Anishinaabe in Española, Ont. Spiritual Centers are included.

Some First Nations leadership told CBC News they are consulting their communities about the revelations and statements are expected in the next few weeks.

Assignment in Spanish Indian residential school

The six priests and brothers named worked at the Spanish Indian Residential School, which operated between 1845 and 1958. It was the only residential school managed by the Jesuits.

The school was first located in the Wikwemikong Unsettled Territory on Manitoulin Island. After a fire, the school was relocated in 1913 to the northern shore of Georgian Bay in Spanish, Ont. The industrial school was called St. Peter Claver Residential School for Boys, and later in 1947 the high school was renamed St. Charles Garnier Collegiate.

The Jesuits said that there were several allegations against Joseph Barker, Frederick Costello, George Epoch and William Westaway.

Clergy members served as cooks, prefects, and in the sports and recreation departments at the school, according to the Indian Affairs audit report.

Many priests and brothers from the school also went on to work in the Wikwemkong Unsettled Territory, the M’chigeng First Nation, the Chippewas of the Nawash Unsettled First Nation, and the Garden River First Nation.

James Mara (multiple charges) was employed at the Spanish Indian Residential School where he worked as a cook. According to issues of the Garnier Star Club, the school’s monthly bulletin, Mara organized several carnivals and boxing matches for the students. He was later assigned to the Fort William Reserve in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Father Lawrence Brennan was also accused of many things. According to an obituary published by the Jesuits, he worked at the school as a teacher and supervisor for three years, until 1957.

He was later sent to the Holy Cross Mission in the Wickwemakong Unsettled Territory for three years and spent 18 years in Heron Bay, Ontario, where he worked with the neighboring Bigtigong Nishanbeg and was made an honorary chief. Brennan also released a statement to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2011 before his death in 2015. The statement is not public, but parts are cited in the TRC’s final report.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Mark Miller said the revelations brought out mixed feelings.

“Broadly speaking, there recognized fathers have passed away, I think that gives people a chance to have accountability,” he said.

“I understand that seeing the names of people on this list can be quite triggering for many people, but I think at the end of the day, better late than never, it’s good to see the Jesuits taking some accountability. And transparency in this .,

He said that from the government’s point of view, there is a continuing need to support communities with welfare, language and culture as they grapple with a “pattern of preying on Indigenous communities”.

“We know the damage that has been done has been done to the whole community,” Miller said.

,We are not dealing with the acts of individuals in different circumstances. I think this is an important truth that we have to keep uppermost in our minds because it leads to its institutional nature that requires continued accountability.”

Ka’nhehsí:io Deer
, Journalist

Ka’nhehsí:io Deer is a Kanien’kehá:ka journalist from Kahnawà:ke, south of Montreal. She is currently a reporter with CBC Indigenous covering communities across Quebec.

A National Indian Residential School Helpline has been set up to provide support for residential school survivors and others affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour National Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.

Support is also available for anyone affected by their experience in Indian or federal day schools. Individuals can access immediate mental health counseling and crisis intervention services at the Hope for Wellness Helpline by calling 1-855-242-3310 or online at www.hopeforwellness.ca.