Disgraced priest Johannes Rivoire dead at 93

Nunatsiaq News [Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada]

April 12, 2024

By Nunatsiaq News

Rev. Johannes Rivoire, a former Nunavut priest accused of sexually abusing multiple Inuit children, has died.

Rev. Ken Thorson, the head of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate order headquartered in Ottawa, confirmed in an email that Rivoire, a Roman Catholic priest, died Thursday after a long, unspecified illness.

The 93-year-old spent more than 30 years working as a priest in several Nunavut communities. He was a member of the Oblate order, a religious order within the Roman Catholic Church.

Rivoire left Canada for his home country of France in 1993, around the time RCMP began investigating allegations against him.

The first three charges were laid against Rivoire in 1998. Challenges with extradition led the Crown to stay those charges in 2017.

One new charge of historical indecent assault was laid against Rivoire in 2022.

None of the charges were ever tested in court.

Through a lawyer, Rivoire denied the accusations as recently as 2022.

Rivoire never returned to Canada, despite attempts by several groups to get him to do so.

“We recognize that this news will be difficult for many to receive, especially for the survivors and their families who advocated for him to face justice in Canada,” Thorson said in the email.

“We sincerely regret that despite all their efforts, Rivoire never made himself available and will never face the charges that were laid against him. We further regret that efforts for him to be formally removed as a priest were unsuccessful.”

In a September 2022 trip organized by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., a delegation of Nunavut Inuit travelled to Paris, France to demand the return of Rivoire to face justice in Canada.

The group included Steve Mapsalak, a former Nunavut MLA who Rivoire had been accused of abusing in the first charges that were laid against the priest, as well as Tanya and Jesse Tungilik, children of the late Marius Tungilik whom Rivoire had also been charged with abusing.

Some of the group did get to meet with Rivoire on that trip. After the meeting, Mapsalak told a Nunatsiaq News reporter that the priest denied abusing him and his younger brother.

“I responded, ‘You are lying, you know exactly what you did to me and my younger brother,’” Mapsalak said.

Mapsalak could not be reached Friday for comment on Rivoire’s death.

A representative for NTI did not respond Friday to a request for comment for this story.

More recently, retired Quebec judge André Denis led the Oblate Safeguarding Commission. It was created by the Oblates, to investigate how the Church and possibly the RCMP handled the allegations that were made against Rivoire.

After releasing the report from his 10-month investigation last month, Denis told Nunatsiaq News that the evidence “overwhelmingly demonstrates” that Rivoire sexually assaulted five Inuit children in what’s now Nunavut between 1968 and 1979.

Rivoire again denied the accusations in a 2023 interview with Denis for the report.