NTI planning trip to France with goal of getting Rivoire on plane to Canada
Inuit delegation to demand extradition of disgraced priest accused of historical sexual abuses
A delegation of Inuit might soon be headed to France to seek the extradition of a priest accused of historical sexual abuse in Nunavut, an NTI spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. is in the preliminary stages of planning the trip, said Hannah Uniuqsaraq, director of self determination at NTI, in an email to Nunatsiaq News.
Johannes Rivoire, 91, spent more than 30 years in Nunavut between 1960 and 1992 as a parish priest, mostly in Arviat and Naujaat.
He was accused of sexually assaulting boys and girls during that time, some as young as six years old.
Rivoire left Canada for France in 1993, and has remained there since.
In February, RCMP charged Rivoire with indecent assault, stemming from incidents involving a young girl in Arviat and Whale Cove, alleged to have occurred between 1974 and 1979. While France has an extradition treaty with Canada, French law protects its citizens from extradition.
Previous historical sexual assault charges against the priest were stayed in 2017, after the Public Prosecution Service of Canada concluded there was no reasonable chance of conviction.
Lieve Halsberghe, a longtime advocate for addressing abuse by clergy, has been fighting for years to get Rivoire back on Canadian soil to face his accusers.
She was in Iqaluit on July 29 to witness Pope Francis’s speech outside Nakasuk Elementary School, where he apologized for the role members of the Catholic Church played in helping run the residential school system in Canada where abuses against Indigenous children occurred.
Halsberghe, who lives in Belgium, said she plans to meet with the delegation when it eventually gets to France, which could happen as early as September.
She said the best-case scenario for the outcome of the trip is “Rivoire gets on a plane to Canada. That is the actual goal.”
“The second goal is to inform the French public about harbouring these criminals,” she said.
In July, federal Justice Minister David Lametti confirmed an extradition request has been made by Canada to the government of France for the return of the priest to face justice in Canada.