Father Joannes Rivoire, now in his early 90s and living in France, in an early, undated photo taken in Chesterfield Inlet. (Photo courtesy of Lieve Halsberghe)

Catholic Church to help bring accused priest to justice, Obed says

Johannes Rivoire is facing a new sexual assault charge after previous charges stayed in 2017

By Nunatsiaq News

The Roman Catholic church will help bring to justice a French priest, Rev. Johannes Rivoire, accused of sexually assaulting children during his time in Nunavut.

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, made the announcement Friday after Pope Francis delivered an apology for  abuses suffered by Indigenous people in Canada’s residential school system.

The Pope’s apology came on the final day of a week of meetings with Indigenous leaders from Canada, including seven Inuit delegates led by Obed.

Rivoire, 93, is accused of abusing children during his time working in communities across the Kivalliq region of Nunavut decades ago.

“We have worked with the Catholic Church and they have expressed their willingness to work with us to ensure justice is served in this particular case,” Obed said.

It’s not clear whether this commitment will include bringing Rivoire to Canada to face a new sexual assault charge, which was laid against him in February. Earlier charges against him were stayed in 2017, after the Public Prosecution Services of Canada concluded there was no reasonable chance of conviction.

Earlier this week, Obed urged Francis to speak to Rivoire, who is reportedly living in France, and ask him to return to Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the Pope’s apology during a virtual meeting Friday morning where he announced $214 million to improve Iqaluit’s municipal water system.

“We look forward to him coming to Canada to deliver that apology in person,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau paid tribute to the “tremendous amount of bravery and determination” of Indigenous advocates and others who have pushed the Vatican for years to apologize for the church’s role in Canada’s residential school system.

Those schools were created in the late 1800s to separate Indigenous people from their communities, culture and language but some continued to operate until the 1990s.

Last summer, Canada faced a reckoning with its residential school history when hundreds of bodies of children were located in unmarked graves near some schools, prompting Indigenous leaders to demand the government and churches be held accountable for the deaths of children at those schools.

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(33) Comments:

  1. Posted by Umingmak on

    I trust the Catholic Church about as much as I trust a glass of tap water from Flint, Michigan.

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  2. Posted by Pork Pie on

    Whatever happens here or becomes of this, let’s acknowledge that this is a significant accomplishment by Obed.

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  3. Posted by 867 on

    This man is 95 now let him rot away. Real Justice should look like the Catholic Church giving up all the land they own in Nunavut back to Nunavut.

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    • Posted by Gen Z on

      “Real justice” I’m sorry but the survivors need THEIR justice. They live with the memories of the horrendous act Rivoire inflected on them. Regardless of his old age he shall stand forward in front of his victims and apologize what he’s done. They need closure. They would not come forward now if they did not need this for themselves. He’s done the crime he can surely do the time. If he wanted a good retirement at this old age of 93 he should have been the proper religious figure he was supposed to be all those years ago. Don’t forget, Canada acted like none of this had happened so for this justice to come now is more important than ever.

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      • Posted by Not so fast on

        I wasn’t aware he was found guilty for his alleged crimes.

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        • Posted by Tired of your nonsense on

          I can’t believe these privileged trolls, here to put on their little contrarian dance and tell us “it doesn’t matter” or “he hasn’t been proven guilty!” … Turn off your computers and go for a walk, read a book, read some history, learn something, listen to something else for once besides the reverberations inside your own head.

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          • Posted by Rights on

            The Canadian charter of rights and freedoms is hardly nonsense. Section 11. Read it.

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            • Posted by Tired of your nonsense on

              Unless your point is that the Constitution is meant to prevent any pushback or criticism of whatever tedious and superficial points you have the right to make, I really don’t see why you brought it up?

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            • Posted by Ojibwa on

              As a 100% Ojibwa, we took a lot of hate and abuse from Churches, police, and the Justice system, and average citizens. I think they should lock him away, that is the proper thing to do.

              Answer this honest and direct question: if a man sx.abused your grandmother 40years ago and he is still alive, would you want him to rest at home relaxing comfortably or be locked up like a true criminal?

              Now change that victim to your niece, or your daughter, would you be okay for that same criminal to be free?

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          • Posted by Tired of my own Sense on

            I think what’s being said here is that even if you somehow manage to bring this man to trial, there’s no guarantee he will be found guilty or face punishment.
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            The “Gen Z” (AKA detached from reality) commenter is saying that he “shall stand forward in front of his victims and apologize”. What world is this Zoomer living in? Even if you’re found guilty in court, there’s no mandate to apologize. Zoomer goes on to say, “He’s done the crime he can surely do the time”. Well, that’s not for sure, either. Trying to convict somebody of 40-year-old crimes is extremely difficult, especially in a “my word against yours” situation.
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            Essentially what would happen, if he were ever able to be extradited to Canada, as unlikely as that already is, is that his lawyer would appeal that decision to delay, would then request a bunch of time to prepare his defence, and then request more time, and then would file papers saying his client is not medically fit to stand trial, or is having medical issues and the trial needs to be delayed, and so on, and then maybe hey, they actually take him to trial and convict him, but then his lawyer appeals, and eventually the man is just going to die of old age before going to trial.
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            Now, ask yourself, which do you think is better for the victims? Do you think going through years of anticipating this man will face justice to end up never seeing it come to fruition will help?

    • Posted by Intruiged on

      867, will you help fill us in on how much land the Catholic Church actually “owns” in Nunavut?

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      • Posted by 867 on

        Who knows, but I think its a LOT. There are lots of Churches in Nunavut and I think they own the land it is on.

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        • Posted by Intruiged on

          I searched the Land Claims Agreement and the words Catholic and Church don’t appear (unless you count Churchill). It seems there is no provision for them to own land in Nunavut, of course they own their buildings.

          Maybe you know better about this? I’d be interested to read about it. As it is I can’t find anything.

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    • Posted by Just stop lying on

      The Catholic Church does not own any land in Nunavut. Please do a little research before making statements like this.

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      • Posted by iRoll on

        Some people don’t bother themselves with facts, being so enamored with their own fictions.

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      • Posted by Nobody on

        This is false. I will not speak for all of Nunavut but some parcels of Land Tenure are privately owned by the Church. Not leased – owned. I know this because I’m a PLA in one of the communities.

  4. Posted by DUMBFOUNDED!! on

    an apology from the catholic church is like placing a bandage on a open sore that won’t heal. the emotional, mental, phycological, sexual and murder scars will always be inside the survivors (residential/intergenerational). an apology is just a word for those who know they did wrong and those dirty secrets are out in the open. just words. i do not accept their apology as i don’t accept the apology from canadas p.m. trudeau…

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    • Posted by Your Choice on

      That is your privilege, as it is your loss. The apology has been made, whether you accept it or not.

      Ultimately, at the end of the day, your acceptance or not in no way diminishes the apology.

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      • Posted by Chocolate Chip Cookie on

        Your comment would have been perfect had it ended at “That is your privilege.”

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        • Posted by Molex2 on

          it also happen to us white people too and its very sad such Ugly things happen in the world
          i personaly meet some one older then me who was not aboriginal but was Also Molested and badly treated by Priest Teachers in the south, unbeliavble to me wich cant understand the why ? would some one do that ?

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  5. Posted by Johanne Coutu-Autut on

    I sure hope that at his advanced age that he is not suffering from dementia otherwise this would all be pointless. We have not heard about his fitness to stand trial if it comes to be. I really do not know If the Pope has the authority to order him back to Canada to face trial ( if he is fit) when he has been retired for many years now.
    If he is fit for trial and goes to trial, I hope they can reopen the charges regarding Marius’s case and the other person who had come forward at the time. If found guilty, I would like for my family to give a victim impact statement to the court on how this pedophile affected my family very negatively and very deeply. I want to look at him in the eye and tell him how I feel, how his actions affected Marius, myself and my children. I also want my adult children also have that chance to do so too. This would go a long way on helping us heal. I hope they also investigate Bishop Rouleau who helped him escape out of the country shortly after Marius went to the RCMP back in the early nineties to give a statement regarding sexual abuse by Rivoire. This was aiding and abetting a person who was being investigated for criminal offences and obstruction of justice as well. The fact that Marius is no longer on earth, not even sure if they will be allowed to mention his statement as he would no longer be able to be cross examined by the defence

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    • Posted by No Such Power on

      The Pope has no authority to order any such thing.

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      • Posted by Bigger Picture on

        If the only way you can imagine power is through ‘State / legal’ framework you are missing a lot.

        The Pope wields more influence over the workings of the Church than anyone. He may not command an army, but to think he lacks the power to influence the outcome here shows a very limited mindset.

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        • Posted by Northern Guy on

          No Such Power is absolutely correct. The Pope has absolutely no authority to order an extrajudicial extradition from an independent third country. Rivoire is a citizen of France and until France agrees to give him up he will stay there.

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          • Posted by Can you think outside your wee little box? on

            Yes, we are all aware of this anodyne and completely uninsightful ‘fact’ … but you ignore, or maybe you just can’t “see’ that the Church, and the pope specifically wield a tremendous amount of influence in the world, which is a form of power, and which might possibly move this case. We will see.

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            • Posted by The Reality on

              Influence does not give the ability to order. The pope can request, nothing more.

              He’s like Obed that way:

            • Posted by Long Ago Maybe, Not Now on

              You are living about 60 years in the past when it comes to France.

              The pope probably has less influence (not power) then Greenpeace.

              The culture has changed a great deal in the last half century.

  6. Posted by Forgive this but it still continues on

    For those who were hurt by this man are resilient and feel at ease for he’s terrible actions. But still to this day and the future it will still continue to your son, your daughter, your mother, your father if we do not speak up now more individuals will get hurt.

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  7. Posted by Northern Guy on

    I am not sure what special powers Obed thinks the hierarchy of the Catholic church holds but there is little that can be done if France chooses not to cooperate. Obed is speaking to the wrong people. This isn’t 1400 when an all powerful pope could compel a Catholic king to do his bidding. France is a secular state and the Pope holds about as much sway there as Obed does.

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    • Posted by Canada’s Sway on Extradition on

      Ah come on now, I’d say the pope holds more sway in France than Obed. I’d go as far as to say the pope holds about as much sway in France as Canada does. Which… yeah, sorry.

  8. Posted by Thomas Shelby on

    The Pope has no power over France, sure he commands the most powerful church in the world but that doesn’t mean he controls France. The priest is now 93 or 95 and probably can’t travel and more than likely not in his right mind. The Pope’s apology should be taken as a great accomplishment, 20 years ago there wouldn’t have been one. Only now with the world the way it is, people will not tolerate this abuse and demand justice. Hopefully the priest can be brought to justice here in Canada but if I were betting, I would put my money on the priest never leaving France.

  9. Posted by Kenn Harper on

    Is a demanded or coerced apology ever sincere?

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  10. Posted by “Has Been Hunter” on

    Even if he brought back and convicted, it will be hollow justice. He is now feeble and old and shackling and locking him away will not be like putting a dangerous man away so he won’t harm others. It is already done, many victims of residential schools suffered and in turn did victimize those that never went and the bad circle continues. It is now time to end those old wounds and hurts and let us rise and become better for the sake of the younger generation.

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