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Four Worlds gives voice to victims of school abuse (Part I)
Churches Say They Had 'Good Intentions' (Part II)
Those hurt by residential schools need more than money to heal, says victim
'We're sorry,' Ottawa tells Natives
Former Residential School Supervisor Gets 10-year Jail Sentence for Abuse
Judge Rules Aboriginals can Sue Whole Church
Catholic Church loses bid to get out of abuse case
Judge Denies Request to Take Anglican Church off the Hook

Four Worlds gives voice to victims of school abuse

Date: Thursday December 18, 1997
Written by: Joanne Helmer
Published by: The Lethbridge Herald

Lawsuits may seek compensation for former residential school students

    A Lethbridge-based organization is going to bat for residential school victims and their communities.
    The Four Worlds International Institute is spearheading a massive plan to gain hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for Aboriginal and Metis people.
    Many former residential students say abuses ranging from sexual assualts to starvation and beatings took place in the government funded, church-operated schools.
    "These schools stole the most precious part of tribal peoples' lives," says Four Worlds co-ordinator Phil Lane. "Sooner or later, the people responsible must be held accountable for their actions."
    Four Worlds and other aboriginal organizations are preparing for several class action lawsuits and perhaps thousands of individual civil actions in Canada and the U.S. Australia and New Zealand may also be included.
    "Resolution of this issue is no different than fighting for return of the gold stolen from the Jewish people by the Nazis and forgotten is Swiss banks," says Lane.
    The group will also insist on a political process comparable to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission to reveal the full scope of damages to the social, cultural and political structure of aboriginal communities.
    "It's not enough to say we're sorry," says Lane.  Both the individuals and the communities experienced the consequences, so both must be included in the redress, he notes.
    Individual settlements between Ottawa and former students, about 124 so far, don't provide the "healing process" needed by the community, or the public's need for full disclosure.
    No amount of money can ever pay for the suffering caused by suicides, rapes, incest, murders, child sexual assaults "or other the cruelty experienced in the boarding school's," adds Lane, who's received international recognition for his work with indigenous cultures.
    But justice won't be done until funds are provided to restore the individuals and community\ies to what he calls, "a healthy state: culturally, socially, economically, politically, and spiritually.
    Imagine what it would be like if every child between the ages of five and seventeen was taken in one day from their parents and the City of Lethbridge was left childless for years and years, suggests Lane.
    When this happened in aboriginal communities this century, some people never saw their children again.  Others lost their parenting skills and others abused their own children and communities.
    Entire generations of aboriginal people have been locked into patterns of dependency and suicide as a direct result of domination by such a sick and criminal system. Right now, there's no real understanding of how desperate the situation is.
     Lawyer Karim Ramji, of the firm Slater Vecchio in Vancouver, describes the residential school system as "Canada's Holocaust."
     In a legal opinion prepared this fall for committee of the Council of B.C. Chiefs, Ramji says, "The impacts of this experience are truly multi-generational. People's lives and the lives of their families and their children have been deeply affected by the experiences... in some circum-stances the survivors have become abusers."
      He says the impact is like a plague, ravaging and destroying aboriginal communities.
He also points out that in spite of recent evidence provided by Canada's Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the issue still remains on the public's backburner.
    A commission in Australia detailed similar widespread abuse in residential schools there.
Ramji estimates, civil damages could amount to  a $225,000 for each individual.  In Southern Alberta that could a add up to several hundred million dollars in damages.
 "When the full extent of the intergeneration sexual, emotional1 physical, and spiritual abuse is disclosed at the St. Paul's and St. Mary's Residen-tial Schools on the Blood Reserve, the potential damages could easily be more than several hundred million dollars," says Lane.
    He says he's heard stories about the schools here since he first arrived 17 years ago. He's working with a group of Bloods on their individual lawsuits.
     Lane says there were 80 residential schools across Canada, with 125, 000 children as students.  Out of the toatl, 44 schools were operated by the Roman Catholic Church, 21 by the Anglican Church of Canada, 13 by the United Church, and two by the Presbyterian Church.
    So far, 420 individual suits have been filed agilnst the federal government by former students, independent of the Four Worlds strategy.
    In all, 16 crirninal charges have been filed and some church officials, convicted, he says. Among them are, a former priest from St Mary's Residential Salibolon the Blood Reserve. Father Maurice Goutier received a suspended sentence and two years probation in August of 1995 after pleading guilty to committing indecent assault at the school beween from 1955 to 1957.  A second charge of indecent assault was dis-missed by the Crown.
     Tomorrow, the response from government and churches.

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Churches Say They Had 'Good Intentions'

Date: Friday December 19, 1997
Written By: Joanne Helmer
Published By: The Lethbridge Herald

But despite early idealism, they now recognize the damage done in old residential schools

Only time will tell how may casualties will emerge from the ashes of Aboriginal residential schools, structures long relegated to history books in southern Alberta, at least.
    Organizations seeking redress for victims of the residential school systems say they can't predict how many former students will file lawsuits in the near future.
    It's impossible to guess, says their Texas legal advisor.
    And Lethbridge is not immune, being situated as it is between Canada's largest reserve, that of the Blood Tribe, and the Peigan nation just to the north.  Both were home to residential schools, two on the Blood reserve, and on the Peigan.
    A story in yesterday's Herald outlined a massive legal and political strategy to gain hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for aboriginal and Metis people who suffered abuses in church and government run residential schools in Canada and the U.S.
     The Lethbridge-based Four Worlds International Institute is spearheading the plan.
    Dallas lawyer Sylvia Demarest say the numbers are unclear because of the secrecy involved.
    "(Victims) probably never talked about it before because there's so much shame invovled," she said in a telephone interview.
    But it's clear what took place from evidence presented in individual lawsuits and by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, says Four Worlds co-ordinator Phil Lane.
    Demarest was part of a legal team that gained $120 million in damages this summer from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas for 10 men, and the family of another, who committed suicide.
    It is being called the largest ever award against the Roman Catholic Church for abuse by clergy.
    A Dallas jury found the Diocese guilty of gross negligence, malice, conspiracy and fraud for letting Father Rudy Kos repeatedly molest the men when they were 10 and 12 years old altar boys.
    Demarest said the comprehensive strategy being prepared by Four Worlds and its supporters may begin in B.C. where the provincial government recently authorized class-action suit.
    But one church official has a warning: lawyers who might participate should think carefully, says John Siebert, national staff member for the United Church of Canada in Toronto.
    Churches had good intentions when they got involved in the residential schools, he said.
    Despite that, "(churches) now recognize a great deal of damage was done. It's possible the legal process might not provide the good that's intended," he said, also in a telephone interview.
    In 1986, the United Church asked Aboriginal people for forgiveness for its role in the school system.
    Also, there's a limit to the kind of damages an adversarial legal system can address, he said.
    The legal system responds to damage caused by sexual abuse but not loss of language or culture, he pointed out.
    "We've always said the response needs to cover a range of abuses."
    Siebert said the United Church supports a culturally appropriate public truthe-telling mechanism.  It also supports an apology, counselling and support for victims from the federal government.
    He said the church supports the "healing process" and participates where it's asked by Aboriginal groups, and that all four churches involved have discussed the issue with the federal government and the Assembly of First Nations.
    The Herald was unable to contact representatives of the Anglican or Roman Catholic Church who would speak on the Four Worlds strategy.
    A federal government spokesman shied away from discussing the possibility of massive legal actions, saying he hasn't seen the plan.
    Ottawa will focus on the "healing process," said Shawn Tupper, senior advisor to the department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa.
    Tupper added that class action lawsuits are not available in every province.
    He said Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Jane Stewart's response to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples is almost ready.
    "We've done a considerable amount of work on that and the minister is trying to get the final elements of the response right."
    Stewart was reported in the Globe and Mail Monday to have shed a tear after meeting with a group of former residential school students in B.C. But she did not offer them a formal apology or compensation on behalf of the federal government.
    Lane said he has faith in the ability of APN to negotiate a "good beginning" toward resolving the residential school issue.
    "But it's only a beginning," Lane said.  He pointed to a recent comment from Phil Fountaine, national chief of AFN, who said an apology without a serious commitment to the healing process would be an empty gesture.
    The AFN has described the government's residential school policy as "catastrophic" for individuals, their families and communities.
    Lane says aboriginal organizations working with Four Worlds are not "church-bashing" with the plan to gain financial compensation and full disclosure.
    "This is not about Christianity and the sacred teachings of Jesus.  He didn't teach anyone to beat defenseless children into unconsciousness or lock them in closets for days, or sexually abuse them."
    Four Worlds is "exploring every legal and political option possible to resolve this issue in a good way," said Lane.  He said he hopes Canada wil take a leadership role amoung nations by calling a public inquiring and revealing information on its own.
    "By forcing people to go to court to resolve this issue, the government is further contributing to their pain and suffering," he said.
    Amoung organizations supporting projects are the National Indian Child Welfare Association and the World Media Institute.

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Those hurt by residential schools need
more than money to heal, says victim

Date: Wednesday, January 7, 1998
Written by: Unknown
Published by: The Lethbridge Herald

VICTORIA (CP) - There is no price tag for what amounts to hundreds of years of ethnic cleansing, says a Victoria artist and victim of Indi-an residential school abuse.
    The federal government is expected to announce today up to $700 million to Canada's aboriginals to fund economic development and healing centres for victims of the residential school system.
    It is a response to the 3,500-page report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples released in November 1996.
"There's no monetary compensation that could ever replace a childhood," said Art Thompson.
    He said $700 million is a huge amount of money, but is only a token response when the staggering numbers of victims are considered.
    Thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their families and placed in church- and state-run residential schools with a mandate to assimilate them into non-aboriginal society.
    Some students made the transition, but many were permanently scarred by the emotional, physi-cal and sexual abuse they suffered at the schools.
    Suicide, alcohol and drug addiction, family breakdown and loss of culture are many of the lasting legacies of the residential school system.
    Thompson, 48, said he struggles daily to over-come the tortures he suffered as a boy at the Unit-ed church-run -Alberni residential school in Port Alberni, B.C.
    "It's really hard to get over that," he said. "It keeps reoccurring."
    Thompson was able to release some of the emo-tion from the abuse he suffered when a former dormitory supervisor at the    Alberni school was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in 1995.
    Arthur Henry Plint, 79, was sentenced to (1 years in prison for repeated abuse of Thompson and more than a dozen other aboriginal boys dur-ing a 30-year period from 1948 to 1968.
    Thompson is suing the federal government and the United Church of Canada for damages from the abuses he suffered at the church-run school.
    He said he wants aboriginal people to decide what to do with the money Ottawa provides for healing.

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Date: Thursday, January 8, 1998
Written by: Unknown
Published by: The Lethbridge Herald

Apology not enough for century of mistreatment, aboriginal leaders say

OTTAWA (CP) - The federal gov-ernment extended a hand Wednesday for more than a century of mistreat-ment of aboriginal peoples - but the apology was widely rebuffed as not going far enough.
     A "statement of reconciliation" was the centrepiece of Ottawa's response to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, which will see natives receive more than $600 million on top of current funding over the next four years.
The statement, delivered by Indian Affairs Minister Jane Stewart, expressed regret for the poor treatment aboriginals have received throughout history.
    "The government of Canada today formally expresses to all aboriginal people in Canada our profound regret for past actions of the federal govern-ment which have contributed to these difficult pages in the history of our relationship together," Stewart said at a Parliament Hill ceremony featuring traditional native singing and dancing.
    The statement also included a long-awaited apology saying the govern-ment is "deeply sorry" for the sexual and physical abuse that Indians suf-fered at residential schools set up to assimilate Indians into white culture.
     The massive royal commission report, released more than one year ago, devoted 50 pages to a stinging indictment of the schools, which exist-ed in all but New Brunswick, New-foundland and Prince Edward Island.
     The apology, which came after years of lobbying and lawsuits, was accompanied by a healing fund of $350 million over the next four years to go towards treatment and coun-selling for abuse victims.
     Marlon Watts, who was repeatedly raped for years when he was a child attending a residential school in Port Alberni, B.C. , said the apology came as a big relief as he watched it on TV Wednesday.
     "I can accept that," said Watts, who still intends to sue Ottawa for compensation for the pain and suffer-ing he endured at the government sponsored school. His civil case goes to trial next month.
     There are hundreds of lawsuits filed against Ottawa and churches, which ran the schools before they were shut down in the 1980s. Most churches apologized years ago for their role and had long urged Ottawa to do the same.
     As part of its response to the royal commission, the federal government also offered up at least $250 million more over four years (some of the money was previously promised) to go toward everything from improving housing on impoverished reserves to setting up an aboriginal health insti-tute to cope with the high rates of AIDS, tuberculosis and suicide.
     The commitment falls short of the 440 recommendations contained in the 4,000-page royal commission report, which suggested additional annual spending of $1.5 to $2 billion in the next 20 years.
Four of five native leaders who were ceremoniously handed scrolls of the reconciliation statement were quick to dismiss it, saying it is too weak and does not recognize Metis and Inuit.
    "Our people are not going to be sat-isfied with the response we've had today," said Gerald Morin, president of the Metis National Council.
    The leaders also criticized the state-ment for not being nearly as strong as the apology former prime minister Brian Mulroney offered to Japanese interned in Canada during the Second World War.
    "I refuse to accept this," said Mari-lyn Buffalo, head of the Native Women's Association of Canada.
Only Phil Fontaine, head of the Assembly of First Nations and a victim of abuse at a Manitoba school, embraced the apology he'd been advo-cating for years.
    He said the entire statement was a historic step to break from the past.
Morin dismissed both the statement and the entire government response to the royal commission as inadequate when stacked against the recommen-dations, which included such mea-sures as setting up an aboriginal par-liament.
    Harry Daniels, president of the Con-gress of Aboriginal Peoples, added that the response is short on money and focuses too much with what hap-pened to Indians at residential schools.

Canada's Natives at a glance

Ottawa (CP) -- Some facts and figures on Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and their social development based on figures supplied by the Indian Affairs Department:
 Life expectancy: The gap in life expectancy between First Nations and other Canadians is seven years.  In 1990, the life expectancy of native men was 66.9 years and for women 74 years - compared to 74.6 and 80.9 years for all Canadian.  Life expectancy is lowest for registered Indians living on reserves: 62 years for men and 69.6 years for women.
 Suicide: Suicide rates of registered Indian youth aged 15 to 24 are eight times higher than the national rate for females and five times higher for males.
 Infant mortality rates:  Amoung natives, infant mortality rates fell from 28 to 11 per 1,000 live births between 1979 and 1993.  The national rate fell from 11 to six per 1,000 live births in the same period.
 Addictions and solvent abuse:  62 per cent of First Nations people aged 15 and over perceive alcohol abuse as a problem in tbeir com-munity while 48 per cent state that drug abuse is an issue.
 Health: Native people have 6.6 times greater incidence of tuberculosis and are three times as likely to be diabetic.
 Incarceration:  Rates of incarceration for Aboriginal Peoples are five to six times higher than the national average.

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Former Residential School Supervisor Gets
10-year Jail Sentence for Abuse

Date: Sunday August 16, 1998
Written By: Unknown
Published By: The Lethbridge Herald

    Inuvik, N.W.T. (CP)- A former residential school supervisor was sentenced Saturday to 10 years in prison for sexually abusing teenage students in his care from 1967 to 1979.
    Paul Leroux, 58, sat motionless with his right hand firmly clutching his forehead while Justice John Vertes addressed each of the 14 counts he had been convicted of Friday relating to his 12 years at Grollier Hall.
    "In a trial such as this, my judgement must take into account the guilty pleas entered by the accused," said Vertes, referring to the nine counts of gross indecency Leroux, 58, had pleaded guilty to when the trial began August, 4.
    "But I must also take into account the gross misuse of trust the accused showed towards those in his care and he must be punished."
    In addition to the nine counts of gross indecency, Vertes found Leroux guilty of three counts of indecent assault, one count of attempt to commit indecent assault and one count of attempted buggery.  He was also given a 10-year weapons prohibition.
    "The 14 victims are all grown men now but many bear significant psychological wounds as outlined in the victim impact statements I have reviewed," said the judge.
    "I understand my judgement may not be significant to some in their healing process.  The ruling to be made today is one that deals with protection of society."
    Leroux was found not guilty of seven additional counts including gross indecency and indecent assault.  The sentence will include the nearly 15 months Leroux has served in remand custody since his arrest.
    Crown prosecutor Scott Couper had requested a 15-year sentence for Leroux while the defence suggested three years be added to time already served.
    Those attending the Saturday sentencing showed little emotion as the frail looking Leroux was ushered from the courtroom.
    Outside, family members, most of whom are of Native ancestry, hugged and at least two of Leroux's victims embraced one another.  Several approached Couper for a hug or a handshake.
    Grollier Hall opened in 1959 and was run by the Catholic church until 1985.  When it closed in 1997 it was one of Canada's last residential schools.
    Leroux, who once served as a justice of the peace and later as a complaints investigato for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, is the third supervisor from Grollier Hall to be convicted of sexual abuse.  The other two are currently serving jail time.
    Jerzy George Maczynski, now 68, was sentenced to four years in March last year after pleading guilty to five counts including indecent assault, gross indecency and buggery stemming from incidents in the early 1960's.
    While reading his sentence, Vertes referred to a trial involving Maczynski in British Columbia where he was given a 16 year sentence for similar offences he committed at a residential school there.
    Jean Comeau, 64, was sentenced to a year in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of indecent assault in February.  Comeau was also a supervisor at Grollier Hall in the early 1960's.

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Judge Rules Aboriginals can Sue Whole Church

Date: Saturday January 22, 2000
Written By: Joanne Helmer
Published By: The Lethbridge Herald

    An attempt earlier this month by a northern Alberta Catholic diocese to have its parent body in Rome removed by a series of residential school lawsuits in Alberta has failed for now.
    In a ruling released Friday, Justice R.E. Nation of Calgary Court of Queen's Bench rejected a request from the Catholic Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan to take the Roman Catholic Church off the list of five defendants named in residential school lawsuits in Alberta.  Lawyers representing the diocese said the church, with headquarters in Rome, is not a legal entity capable of being sued.
    But Justice Nation said it's premature to decide whether the larger church body should be held liable along with the local diocese and Catholic orders which operated the schools.
    "In my view, the cross-examination makes it clear that various bodies within the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope, the Holy See and the Curia, to name a few- have religious authority over various individuals within the applicant organization and may have been involved, in some fashion, in the operation or supervision, of the schools," wrote the judge.

Ruling was a Test for Residential School Lawsuits

    But the decision must wait for discovery and document production and may have to be argued in trial she said.
    The application was a test case which will apply to all residential school lawsuits in Alberta.
    At least 2,000 Aboriginal peopl, including more than 500 from the Blood and Peigan reserves, are claiming millions of dollars in damages from the Catholic and Anglican churches and their orders for physical and sexual abuse they say they suffered at the school, as well as lack of an education and broad cultural destruction, in some instances.
    Lethbridge lawyer Vaughn Marshall, who represents some of the southern Alberta Aboriginals, along with Rhonda Ruston, says the issue of the liability of the international body of the Catholic Church has never been raised before.  This appears to be the first time it has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit in Canada, he says.
    Rouston and Marshal say the judgement means they should have access to documents directly from Rome which show how and why the schools were established, as well as which levels of the church recieved money for operating the schools, and made decisions about the operations.
    "We have believed all along responsibility for the schools needs to be put where it belongs," says Ruston.
    Marshall told Justice Nation that to suggest the longest standing organization in western civilization has lasted 2000 years, with 265 CEOs and two billion adherants, can't be called to account would be to bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
    But the lawyer representing the Missionary Oblates in - Gradin Province, which includes most Oblates in the province, says he doubts any documents related to the schools are located in Rome.  They're all in Ottawa with the federal department of Indian Affairs or with the local diocese, says Fans Slatter of McCuaig Desrochiers in Edmonton.
    As for the responsibility of the larger church, "It's doubtful if the Pope in 1910 even knew the (Alberta) schools existed," he says.
    "Given the level of communication of the time and the distances involved, it's unlikely that schools in western Canada were being run from Rome."  The church was always interested in Catholic education but the local diocese is the legal body responsible for the schoolds and the courts will rule that in the end, he says.

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Catholic Church loses bid to get out of abuse case

Date: Saturday, January 22, 2000
Written by: Unknown
Published by: The Lethbridge Herald

CALGARY (CP) -- A Calgary judge has denied an application to strike out the Catholic Church as a defendant in civil lawsuits over alleged abuse at Indian residential schools.
    The application by the northern Alberta Catholic Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan had argued the church isn't a person, corporate body or entity established by statute and therefore couldn't be sued.
    Judge Rosemary nation ruled that it will be up to a trial judge to determine if the church or any of its hierarchy, including Pope John Paul II, are vicariously liable.
    "Whether the church is an entity capable of being named and sued is not the type of issue that can be determined at this stage of the proceedings," Nation said.
    More than 1,000 lawsuits were launched in Alberta last year seeking damages for alleged abuse and wrongful confinement in residential schools.
    The claims are being made by aboriginals who were placed in the government-sanctioned residential schools between 1916 and 1983.
    The federal government and other churches which ran some of the schools are also being sued.

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Judge Denies Request to Take Anglican
Church off the Hook

Date: Friday February 25, 2000
Written By: Delon Shurtz
Published By: The Lethbridge Herald

    Natives from the Blood and Peigan reserves in southern Alberta who are part of residential school lawsuits in Canada can claim one victory in their battle against the Anglican church.
    Judgement released Thursday by Mr. Justice T.F. McMahon in Calgary Court of Queen's Bench denied the Anglican Church of Canada's request to strike out any statements of claim that say the church is liable for breaches of Treaty 7.
    McMahon further ruled that it would not be proper to have a trial on that issue alone, but that it should be part of the main trial stemming from the lawsuits.
    And that's how it should be, said the office of Ruston Marshall in Lethbridge representing some of the southern Alberta plaintiffs.
    At least 2,000 natives, including more than 500 from the Blood and Peigan reserves, are claiming millions of dollars in damages from the Catholic and Anglican churches, alleging, in some instances, physical and sexual abuse, as well as denial of an education and broad cultural destruction.
    An attempt earlier this year by a northern Alberta Catholic diocese to have its parent body in Rome removed from a series of residential school lawsuits in Alberta also failed.
    In that ruling, Justice R.E. Nation of Calgary Court of Queen's Bench rejected a request from the Catholic Archdiocese of Grouard McLennan to take the Roman Catholic Church off the list of five defendants named.  Lawyers representing the diocese said the church, with headquarters in Rome, is not a legal entity capable of being sued.
    But Justice Nation said it's premature to decide whether the larger church body should be held liable along with the local diocese and Catholic orders which operated the schools.
    "In my view, the cross-examination makes it clear that various bodies withing the Roman Catholic Church- the Pope, the Holy See and the Curia, to name a few- have religious authority over various individuals within the applicant organization and may have been involved in some fashion in the operation or supervision of the schools," wrote the judge.
    Four statements of claim were filed in Lethbridge Court of Queen's Bench last spring over residential schools operated on the Blood and Peigan Reserves most of this century.
    Two of the claims involve the Anglican-operated schools while two claims name the schools opertated by the Roman Catholic Church.
    Former St. Paul's students and a group of former students from Gordons, Sask. were identified after a September meeting in Lethbridge by Anglican officials as showing particular interest in the dispute resolution process.

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