Disgraced priest Johannes Rivoire dead at 93

Former Nunavut priest faced multiple sexual abuse charges from his time in Canada’s North; Rivoire refused requests to return to Canada

Johannes Rivoire is pictured in the third row, far left, of this photograph taken in 1962. The group shot was taken to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first Catholic mission to the Hudson Bay Inuit. (Photo courtesy of Piita Irniq)

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.

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(49) Comments:

  1. Posted by John WP Murphy on

    Why do the Oblates still refer to him as “Reverend”

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    • Posted by JOHANNE COUTU-AUTUT on

      Exactly because they refused to defrock him

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      • Posted by They Couldn’t on

        They couldn’t, orders don’t have that authority.

    • Posted by Tarnished on

      “Reverend” is a term reserved for Aglican or Protestant clergymen while “Father” is the correct term for Roman Catholic priests rapists and molesters.

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  2. Posted by spirituality on

    Why Inuit would have any interest in a Roman manufactured belief system built to suppress people is beyond me. Traditional northern spiritualism makes so much more since, and doesn’t rely on a story of a Mideastern messiah. Cast away catholic nonsense (nonscience).

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    • Posted by That’s a Start on

      Cast it all away – Inuit animism, all the Abrahamic religions – cancel them all.

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    • Posted by Another roadside attraction on

      Agreed, but animism, and shamanistic beliefs are also ‘non-science’

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      • Posted by Al on

        Animism is part of your traditional culture. I believe it is important not to forget your origins. I am wholehartedly with you. The monster is no longer in this world and I hope you get justice even posthumously.

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        • Posted by iThink on

          We can “not forget our origins” while conceding the probability that the world is inhabited by spirits and sprites that will make or fortunes if we just give them the right piece of tuktu is not likely true.

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        • Posted by Say What? on

          Ummm, ‘we’ forget and reinvent ‘our’ origins all the time.

    • Posted by practicality on

      Objectively speaking the West, defined by the principles of the world’s best selling book, has been more successful on every metric. More atrocities and deaths have occurred in secular regimes than any one that is religious. Then again, correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation right?

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  3. Posted by Danny Diddler on

    Great!
    Now that’s over, perhaps the overpaid and feckless cowards at NTI can start tackling the legions of child rapists who are actively abusing kids in Nunavut communities every day.

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    • Posted by Coody Reeen on

      everyone have Rights, I got the right to smoke a doobie and drive my chevy

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  4. Posted by Broken Hearted on

    My friend and I both did our own survey on the child molesters and rap!st within out nunavik community and a total of 64 young men and older men were recognized as paedoplies. These grown men are walking freely in our town while the female and male victims of these horrendous assaults are walking freely while the victims feel betrayed and in fear everytime they see these men. How sad is that when grown men are terrorizing a population of 1,000 people.

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    • Posted by Surveyor on

      agreed. all the focus on the big church and yet right here under our noses are the more dangerous walking free as they walk amongst us. Come on!

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    • Posted by John WP Murphy on

      I am having difficulty understanding, Broken Hearted, if there are so many pedophiles, etc in your community and I assume you have proof and that you have filed a formal complaint with the local police authority, why the police have not arrested them and filed charges?
      Any explanation?

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      • Posted by Wondering on

        Maybe people are afraid to report the abuse to authorities and scared to face alleged offender and re-live the abuse in the court process? It probably takes enormous strength to go through the process…

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      • Posted by John Boy on

        The reason you have difficulty understanding is because you obviously haven’t spent much time living in a small northern community. If you had, you would know exactly why the police have not arrested them and filed charges.

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  5. Posted by Perturbed on

    Finally Rest with your demons. Where you are going you will no longer have the opportunity to harm children.

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  6. Posted by Hunter on

    Johannes Rivoire, you carry your sins everywhere you go and that includes the after life. You are eternally cursed and may you never rest in peace.

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  7. Posted by Judgement Day Is Coming!!! on

    Judgement Day Is Coming your Way you perverted ole man. May your Soul never find Peace or Rest. May Your Soul be Tortured for Eternity. And for your higher ups, there days too are numbered.

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    • Posted by Holy boy on

      Starting point all Roman Catholic Churches across Nunavut and honk your horns

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  8. Posted by Confused on

    He looks different from the others in the photo, very creepy.

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    • Posted by guilty on

      They all look guilty of something. sinners. if it was a nice picture of respectable people they would all look tall & proud and not guilty looking.

  9. Posted by Northerner on

    So many unforgiving souls won’t be forgiven themselves.

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  10. Posted by May GOD Have Mercy On Your Soul on

    He will face the highest court..God’s Court and answer to HIM!

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  11. Posted by John WP Murphy on

    I have often wondered, after being told that the nuns of the Roman Catholic Church and priests of the Anglican Church were also complicit in the abuse of children in Nunavut, why the public outcry and demand for criminal charges has not been the same as for the Catholic priests? Just curious.

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  12. Posted by Susan Savikataaq on

    I moved to Arviat at the time it was known as “Eskimo Point” in 1978. Almost immediately I heard several horrid stories of Father Rivoire and it was creepy and disgusting to say the least. I was very young but thought how can he still be doing his priesthood duties when he should be behind bars. I was raised in a very strong Catholic faith and out of respect for my family, I kept it to myself. Father Rivoire had a green house and you don’t see that anywhere in Nunavut and out of curiosity, I went inside to see when I saw the door was wide opened. As soon as I saw Father Riviore straight in his eyes, I ran out. Despite what others said about NTI delegates trip to the Vatican City, thank for your efforts to try and extradite this monster. Your duties aren’t gone unnoticed. For the survivors, may you continue on to your ❤️‍🩹 journey.

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    • Posted by JOHANNE COUTU-AUTUT on

      Thank you Susan. There are and were many other victims too that did not come forward. There are probably at leas ta 100 more from all the communities he was in for 3 decades. Many people need healing from this. the Church knew about this despite the report from the retired judge. A letter was written to The bishop in 1992 shortly before he took off out of the country. This letter was obviously destroyed. But the person who wrote it is willing to testify in a civil court to that effect. I am willing to corroborate that this person did so because I was told by this person after the letter was mailed. The church aided and abetted his escape and the judicial system failed the victims big time because they did not really care nor want to spend resources to see it through .

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  13. Posted by S on

    Regardless of people’s opinion of Father Rivoire, shouldn’t a professional organisation such as NN refrain from using the word ‘disgraced’ unless the charges had been proven?

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    • Posted by The Old Trapper on

      I think that NN is well within journalistic guidelines to describe a pedophile priest such as Rivoire as disgraced based on the report by Judge Denis. Rivoire refused to return to Canada to face justice for his crimes, and France will not extradite it’s citizens. Think of it as being tried in absentia.

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      • Posted by No It Isn’t on

        It is absolutely not like being tried in absentia. He might have been tried in the court of public opinion, but that is it.

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    • Posted by Mediocrities on

      That you think one must be “charged” with an offense to be “disgraced” confirms how vapid your reasoning continues to be.

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      • Posted by S on

        Thanks Mediocrities, but, not just ‘charged’; charged AND proven.

        You and I live in a society that is on the edge of resorting to a ‘heated’ battle between those who are curious and those who are conformist. Guess which camp holds the vapid volk.

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        • Posted by Oh look, a ‘free thinker’ on

          Dear NN, please add the laugh 😆 option along side the like button.

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  14. Posted by Call a Spade a Spade on

    Let’s be clear – they were victims. Young, defenceless, and without options – victims every one. They might be ‘survivors’ now, but they started as victims – and people like Rivoire know how to sniff them out.

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  15. Posted by Great Minds Think Alike on

    They should, yes – I was thinking the same thing. It is an absolutely loaded term.

    The question is, will they refer to some of our elected representatives who have criminal convictions as ‘disgraced so and so’? Of course not.

    The nice thing about NN is that the progressive/activist bent of its authors is very clear, so there is no guessing.

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  16. Posted by Tulugaq on

    This case is a horrendous example of systemic racism in the Canadian court system. There is not a shadow of doubt that the police dragged their feet during the investigations taking years before charges were laid and letting Rivoire leave Canada. Then, the prosecutors stayed the charges, probably without ever consulting with the victims and taking into account their views since serious charges have no time limitation and could have been prosecuted later if Rivoire left France and was arrested in a neighbouring country on an international warrant with Interpol. The system didn’t care much about this case, failing to properly assess the trauma on the victims since they were Inuit.

    Now that he is deceased there is left the case of the Oblates order and the governments that let these crimes happen and unpunished. There is still the civil side where the victims and their families can sue the Oblates and governments for failing the children, letting an abuser leave the country before being prosecuted and harbouring him in France. As well governments had the duty to protect these children and failed miserably, letting the prosecution be stayed and abandoning the first victims.

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  17. Posted by Tulugaq Correction on

    Suffice to say, your belief that this is based on racism is founded on deep ignorance. The clergy’s abuse of children in North America over the last 50 years has been very racially and ethnically equitable. The inaction of the church at all levels has not been because of the race of the victims. Instead, it has been a confluence of poor and marginalized victims of all races and a desire to protect the institution.

    The Vatican has relieved nearly 3,000 priests of their positions, the majority of whom never faced the criminal justice system. The most common element of the victims was that they were male and from poor families or communities and the church’s desire to protect itself.

    Look at the Hickey case in Newfoundland and the similarities to Nunavut are striking. The difference is that Hickey did not end his days in a non-extradition jurisdiction and justice was able to be done.

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  18. Posted by Judas Henry on

    Run the Roman Catholics and Anglican church out of Nunavut.

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    • Posted by Northerner on

      And have what? A religious people that dance wildly and proudly? Worshipping in jibberish? Maybe I’ll throw in a short yellow bus for you guys. All thanks to roman catholic, they taught me how to pray. How to have faith. How to worship. From them, I saw the heavens open up. I saw a soul enter heaven. I saw the light. I felt God’s power. And you guys want an entire church demolished? All for the sake of a handful of bad apples? Several bad priests? If any men and women try to tear down a church. I’m going to step in. I’m going to march you out. I’m going to donate to the church. I’m going to make it bigger. I’m going to shout, I saw the light. I heard the trumpets. I saw heaven. I felt God’s power. And Jesus will say I am the final sacrifice.

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  19. Posted by JOHANNE COUTU-AUTUT on

    And many of the victims are dead now from suicide ;lets not forget that. For many the burden of shame and secrecy was too much to bear.

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  20. Posted by JOHANNE COUTU-AUTUT on

    We know that the church has harbored pedophiles for centuries all over the world abusing children. The point is that the judicial system is also complicit for their lack of interest for the Inuit victims of these terrible crimes. They dragged their feet and allowed a pedophile to escape justice. The church aided and abetted Rivoire to escape out of the country instead of making him face court in Canada. They knew what he did contrary to what the report said which was commissioned by the church to cover up the whole story.

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    • Posted by Not defending churches on

      But, you might want to keep a close eye on uncle, grandpa, and other elders at all time. Used to work in a place where criminal record checks were needed… there’s a good thing these are required for most jobs in NU.

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