Nunavut Inuit land on French soil, demand priest face justice

Delegation of Inuit implore French government to extradite Johannes Rivoire

From left, Jesse Tungilik, Tanya Tungilik and Steve Mapsalak speak at a press conference at the Paris Press Club on Monday, moments after getting off a plane in the French capital. The three are part of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s delegation to France to push the country to extradite former Nunavut priest Johannes Rivoire. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By Emma Tranter

Updated on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2022 at 2:30 p.m.

PARIS — After travelling more than 4,000 kilometres over three days, a group of Nunavut Inuit arrived in France to demand the return of a Roman Catholic priest who travelled that same distance when he left Canada 29 years ago.

Rev. Johannes Rivoire, 91, spent more than 30 years as a parish priest in Nunavut, mostly in Arviat and Naujaat, between 1960 and 1992. He was accused of sexually abusing boys and girls during that time, some as young as six years old.

In 1998, the RCMP laid three charges against Rivoire for one count of indecent assault against three boys and one count of sexual assault against a girl in Naujaat, between 1968 and 1970.

But Rivoire left Canada for France in 1993 and those charges were stayed in 2017 after prosecutors concluded there was no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction.

The group, which arrived in Paris Monday morning organized by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., includes Tanya and Jesse Tungilik, children of the late Marius Tungilik, one of those whom Rivoire was charged with abusing in 1998.

It also includes Steve Mapsalak, a former Nunavut MLA who Rivoire was also charged with abusing back then.

Those charges were never tried in court.

However, earlier in 2022, RCMP laid another charge against Rivoire for allegedly sexually abusing a girl in Arviat and Whale Cove between 1974 and 1979.

The delegation that’s in France this week wants the French government to take action by extraditing the aging priest so he can be returned to Canada.

“We need to heal. Rivoire has to face justice,” Mapsalak told a room full of French and Canadian media at a press conference shortly after he stepped off the plane.

French reporters scrum Tanya Tungilik following a press conference at the Paris Press Club on Monday. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

Mapsalak told reporters he didn’t want to go into detail about what allegedly happened to him, stifling tears as he spoke.

“I’m not going to say in detail what happened. but I’m very thankful for my late and good friend who started to charge him, Marius Tungilik,” said Mapsalak, pausing between words to wipe tears from his eyes.

Tanya Tungilik accused the Catholic Church of hiding Rivoire in France.

“We know where he lives now,” she said.

Tungilik’s father died in 2012 at the age of 55, “not ever getting any answers or justice,” Tungilik said.

“I can’t imagine how he would have felt if he had known his charges against Rivoire were dropped in 2017. I’m glad he didn’t,” Tungilik said, her voice breaking.

The group will travel to Lyon on Wednesday, where they will meet with Church officials and, they hope, with Rivoire himself though he has refused to meet with them.

In February this year, police charged Rivoire again, this time with a sole count of committing indecent assault against a girl in Arviat and Whale Cove between 1974 and 1979.

In July, officials with Canada’s Department of Justice asked France to extradite Rivoire so he could face justice in Canada.

During Monday’s press conference, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. CEO Kilikvak Kabloona read a statement, addressed to the media, from the woman who came forward earlier this year leading to the new charge against Rivoire.

“I want him in court. I want him in Nunavut for justice in my own language,” Kabloona read from the statement.

NTI president Aluki Kotierk, who also travelled with the delegation, told the room she wants France to act on Canada’s extradition request. Although Canada has an extradition treaty with France, France’s penal code protects its citizens from it.

“We need your help,” Kotierk told reporters.

“Now France needs to take active and brisk steps to honour Canada’s extradition request.”

Kotierk noted France’s investigation by an independent commission in 2021 into the sexual abuse of children and youth by Roman Catholic clergy since the 1950s. Its final report found more than 3,000 priests and clergy had abused minors over five decades in that country.

“You are dismantling the systems that allowed abusers to be hidden and protected. You are putting abusers behind bars,” Kotierk said,

“This is how French deal with the sexual abuse of children and youth. Similarly, Rivoire must face his charges in a Canadian court.”

On Tuesday, the delegation will meet with France’s Ministry of Justice staff and Canada’s ambassador to France.

Correction: This article has been updated from a previous version to delete an incorrect reference to the cause of Maruis Tungilik’s death.

 

 

 

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(23) Comments:

  1. Posted by Inuk on

    This takes a lot of courage to do, to talk about what happened to you or what happened to your father,
    Thank you for having the courage to speak up about it and I truly hope more people in France will learn about this and put pressure on their government to do the right thing.

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  2. Posted by John on

    Such arrogance – thinking they can go harass someone in a foreign country at that that France will grant them all the continuous crutches that Canada does. Deal with all the molesters in Nunavut – France owes you nothing. It’s not Canada!

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    • Posted by oh ima on

      so you’re saying that for victims to go after a beast is harassment? I guess Inuit lives don’t matter to you.

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  3. Posted by Picky Mickey on

    first Vatican city and now France – the world owes you nothing. Stop trying to be a continuous pity case and do something to be proud of on your own instead of expecting the rest of the world to solve your problems.

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    • Posted by Interesting on

      I’ve often wondered how a monster like Rivoire can be protected, but clearly there some are cut from the same cloth and have the same views as Rivoire, even commenting at the victims as ignorant and harassing to protect a monster, a child molester, a predator who did horrible things in Nunavut, in Canada.
      Yet we have a few people who would support such a disgusting thing and say terrible things towards these courageous people trying to get justice.
      If these few who think it’s ignorant and harassing a child molester to answer for what he did makes me think would they be in the same boat!? Why would they support such a vail thing and think it is ok to do so? Do they have the same view as Rivoire? It sure sounds like they do.

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    • Posted by oh ima on

      It’s not about what is owed, it is about getting justice for a horrific crime towards children by a beast who did these things for his own gratification. The Vatican and French government are complicit and can go far as being accomplices in protecting their citizens.

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  4. Posted by Holy Motors on

    I’ve never understood all the negatively and shade thrown at the people who have worked toward justice and closure on these issues.

    What really motivates the comments degrading these people and their efforts?

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    • Posted by It Is Only Natural on

      A natural reaction to embarrassing and cringey

      Intentions are laudable, methods not so much – the arrogance is a major turn off

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      • Posted by Not buying it on

        What arrogance are you talking about? This is such a thin assessment of what is happening here.

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    • Posted by Canned Gripe on

      I’m not sure but I think there several dynamics beneath this. One, there is a quietly held belief that by standing up you are standing out, drawing attention to yourself, etc… and some people are averse to that alone. Also, I suspect some people believe that Inuit need to stay in their ‘lane’ so to speak. How dare they take on the Church or the French, whatever could explain these uppity impulses than ‘arrogance.

      Just.some thoughts to consider, am I missing anything?

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  5. Posted by Frankly on

    So …As written and said… let us all see you protest outside his house ! President of NTI. What an embarrassment and shame for our ethnicity . Government officials have gotten themselves a free paid vacation around the world again and again
    God save the King.

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  6. Posted by The road less travelled on

    Let’s go after all the abusers in Nunavut that you don’t have to extradite! Wait, maybe that would be uncomfortable, they might be related. Nah, let’s just focus on the foreign guy who left decades ago!

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    • Posted by Seriously on

      Why are you so defensive towards having Rivoire brought to justice? I don’t understand this.
      This thing has done terrible things to many, kids at the time and is that ok with you?
      Why do you feel the need to try and bring these victims down and protect this monster?
      Are you with the Catholic Church? I just don’t get your negative comments and protections towards Rivoire.

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      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        No one is being defensive, they are simply sick and tired of watching NTI create public spectacles and go after low hanging fruit like Rivoire rather than doing anything constructive to help address the dumpster fires that are burning in almost every community in the Territory.

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        • Posted by Arctic guy on

          No they are being defensive and in a way putting the victims of this monster down, you can be against NTI all you want for whatever reason but to belittle the victims of Rivoire is just not right.

          Also NTI is not the Nunavut Government, yes NTI could be doing better but for most of what is going wrong in Nunavut falls on the GN, it doesn’t matter how much money the GN has it will never be enough for the GN as they don’t know how to manage or run anything.

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          • Posted by Jennifer on

            Unfortunately this seems to be true, a lot of why is wrong in Nunavut from healthcare, social issues, education, housing, infrastructure the GN receives so much funding and a annual budget of over 2 billion dollars for a small population and on top of that more federal funding for different things such as housing, flights and infrastructure but the GN even with so much funds can’t seem to get things done right.
            No matter the amount of money thrown at them it doesn’t go very far.

  7. Posted by John K on

    I wish them the best; they deserve justice.

    France very rarely extradites French citizens so I’ll temper my expectations.

  8. Posted by Delbert on

    Riviore should be bought to justice. The same for all preditors that violate children. Their crimes are terrible. In this case it’s the federal government. That needs to reach out to France and ask for his extradition.
    But the way NTI is going about trying to get justice is wrong. It’s a waste of money. I feel badly for Steve Mapsalak and others who have suffered. But the fact of the matter is there are many abusers here in Nunavut. That can be identified, But for some reason they are never charged,shunned, or outted by their fellow citizens. These people live openly in society and nothing is done. Why isn’t NTI making an uproar right here in Nunavut. About child abusers. Start by cleaning up the disgusting mess here. NTI spend the money to get help for your own people. Can’t the leaders of NTI here the weeping children. That are being absede this very day.

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  9. Posted by Too bad no financial accountability on

    Look how quickly NTI leaders can organize and act when the reward is a summer trip to Europe instead of meaningful policy implementation.

    Inuit Health Survey? TB eradication? Tens of millions in infrastructure funding? A quarter billion for Inuit training and education? Who needs it when you can clap for the parade through the south of France.

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  10. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Theater of the absurd! Publicly trotting out former victims will do nothing to sway the French or change their policies on extradition. Where is all of NTI’s concern and effort in dealing with modern day molesters, many of whom freely walk the streets of our communities?

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    • Posted by Anguttialook on

      Response to northern guy…ABSOULUTLY THEATER OF THE ABSURD ALSO AN EXCERCISE IN FUTILITY…ALUKI DIDNT DO HER HOME WORK..SHE SHOULD HAVE STUDIED FRANCES RECORD AND THAT RECORD INDICATES FRANCE WILL NOT HAND OVER THIER CITIZENS..REGARDLESS OF CRIMES COMMITED ABROAD…THEY NEVER HANDED OVER THE FLQ RING LEADER FOR THE MURDER OF JAMES CROSS IN THE FLQ CRISES..HISTORY ALUKI..PLEASE TONE DOWN ON GRANDSTANDING BEFORE YOU FROLIC TO SOME OTHER LAND…AND MAKE A SPECTACLE OF YOURSELF…VICTIMES ARE VICTIMIZED ONCES AGAIN..NTI SHOULD DO MORE FOR ITS PEOPLE AND DEAL WITH ISSUES THAT ARE AT CRISES POINT…NOT BE SILENT..IE..SEX ABUSE OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN…WASTE OF $$$$$$ AND TIME…JUST ANOTHER DIVERSION 😉

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