‘Sorry’ isn’t enough, NTI president says of Pope’s apology

Aluki Kotierk calls papal apology ‘only one step towards reconciliation,’ demands more action from Francis

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Aluki Kotierk, seen speaking at a Nunavut Day event in Iqaluit, says Pope Francis’ apology is “only one step towards reconciliation” and called on him to take more action, a day after the Pope gave an historic apology Monday for the role some clergy played in residential school abuses. (File photo by Meral Jamal)

By Nunatsiaq News

Pope Francis’ apology is “only one step towards reconciliation,” according to Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., which sent a delegation of 55 Nunavut Inuit to Edmonton to witness the papal apology.

“Inuit have finally been heard and their experiences acknowledged,” NTI president Aluki Kotierk said in news release Tuesday, a day after the head of the Roman Catholic Church said he was “deeply sorry” for what some members of the church did as part of Canada’s residential school program.

Kotierk said she was moved by the “bravery, compassion and optimism for our future” that survivors showed in Edmonton.

From the 1880s through the 1990s, the federal government had a policy of separating Indigenous Peoples from their culture by forcing children to leave their families and attend one of 139 residential schools — often hundreds of kilometres from their families and their homes.

The government allowed the Catholic and Anglican churches to run the schools. Many children were sexually or physically abused by the clergy who ran the schools.

For years, NTI called for a papal apology, including through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which included it as one of its 94 calls to action in its 2015 report.

In addition to the apology, NTI has asked numerous times for Pope Francis to instruct 91-year-old Rev. Johannes Rivoire to return to Canada to face criminal charges alleging he abused Inuit children in the 1960s and 1970s.

It also wants him to hand over church personnel files to be used in court, and to excommunicate Rivoire and disgraced priest Eric Dejaeger.

Rivoire, who lives in France, was charged earlier this year with one count of sexual assault against a girl in Arviat and Whale Cove from incidents alleged to have occurred between 1974 and 1979.

He was previously charged in 1998 with three counts of abusing children in Naujaat. Rivoire left Canada in 1993. Those charges were stayed in 2017.

Dejaeger, now 75, was granted parole in May after serving two-thirds of a 19-year prison sentence for abusing Inuit children between 1974 and 1982.

NTI also called on the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to contribute funding to the Nunavut Tunngavik Foundation for culture and healing programs for Nunavut Inuit affected by residential schools.


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(34) Comments:

  1. Posted by Huh on

    He hasen’t even apologized to you yet. Everyone calling for an apology and then saying it isn’t enough before you even get it.

    • Posted by HC on

      apologies are always said from people of power, then drop the hat. doing nothing for their own citizens while helping “3rd World” citizens. how is that fair?
      if it the apology helps a small fraction, then what about the other fractions? why is one side more preferred than the other?

      an apology just brings bad stuff again, material or other kinds of resources should be provided

      • Posted by More? on

        Why is it always about money? Who is not being helped at the expense of foreign aid? The North receives buckets and buckets of cash from the feds. Settlements to individuals are being paid to almost everyone. What else is needed? It’s never enough money!

        • Posted by Uvanga on

          What more? Much healing is needed in the north, housing is needed in the north, investing in our inuit culture/language. We need to regain dignity in our people to no longer be shamful of being us and labelled as already recieving millions. The million are to run 25 communities which each have a power plant, health/medical centers, a school or more, own mucicipal government, most trucked in water/sewage. Many of our dumps/sewage systems are not environmentally compliant. So yes we still need millions to be in par with other canadians. We dont have a recovery system for alcohol/ drug abuse. Oh and not sure if you are aware, all 25 communities have abusers which means many victims without proper support. So yes, we still need help with millions as ocupyers of the canadian arctic. We made you canadians before my great grandparents even knew they were canadians on their very own camps and environment.

          • Posted by How it is done on

            To be on par with other Canadians you need to up your education levels and develop your economy, not extend you hand and expect the rest of the world to fill it for you.

  2. Posted by Ragin Ronnie on

    Get the cheque book out essentially. Except money is not going to solve the problems in Nunavut. Ambulance chasing at its best.

  3. Posted by Northern Guy on

    In what universe does Kotierk think that the Pope has the authority to force a foreign government to extradite one of their citizens? Better start talking to the French because there is little to nothing the Pope can do to expedite this matter.

    • Posted by ugh on

      Did you read the story? She didn’t ask the pope to extradite them, she asked him to instruct them (as their religious leader) to return to Canada to face trail. Moreover, even if she was looking at extradition, a figure like the pope can do a lot to help cut deals like that.

      I’m as critical of nti as anyone else, but people on these comment sections just seem to have their knives out without even bothering to understand an issue. Same as the commentator complaining about “elitism”. Just nonsense.

      • Posted by Soothsayer on

        As I see it, the NN comments section has become increasingly reflective of social media discourse on other platforms that incentivize and reward anger and outrage.

        • Posted by Like Buttons on

          In a subtle way the new ‘like’ button feature does this. I know people asked for it for a long time and intuitively it feels right to be able to show approval or dislike of a comment, but there is a trade off in that it can do exactly this; reward and incentivize certain kinds of comments. It doesn’t make every comment this way, but some will bend in those directions.

    • Posted by Oh Ima on

      The pope has a lot of influence, so on his request or order, he can convince a foreign government to extradite an evil criminal.

      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        No he can’t. The days of Pope’s controlling and/or influencing the decisions of states are long over. France is a secular country where religion has no influence over government. As I said before get the GoC involved and talk to France NOT the Pope.

  4. Posted by S on

    The ongoing displays of classism and elitism by indigenous entitlists is truly sickening

    • Posted by Uh-hmm on

      Uh-hmm! Sharing your sentiment, and admiring your accurate and eloquent description of facts. So sickening indeed. Oh well…

      • Posted by Hilarious on

        If eloquence is what you are after, you really need to read more books

      • Posted by Too funny on

        It just goes to show, one person’s ‘eloquence” is another persons ‘basket of cliches’

  5. Posted by Lol on

    NTI should retain lawyers for.victima to sue the priest and get a judgment confirming what happened.

    • Posted by Dave on

      What lawyer will take on a case where there is no hope of collecting on the judgement?

      • Posted by Billionaire on

        NTI has a networth over 2 billion and can surely afford $40-70k to sue this guy. Most likely a default judgment so like $2k.

    • Posted by Uvanga on

      Have NTI Send the victims to this guy to confront him in person before he dies. Restorative justice the inuit way. Talk it out and see where it goes. Send support workers with Piita and Jack and the others. Instead of waiting for the system go before he dies.

  6. Posted by Forgiveness on

    Matthew 6 verses 14-15

    14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you.

    15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, Father will not forgive yours sins.
    This should be a priority before politics gets involved.

    • Posted by Context on

      I’m not a Christian, or really religious at all, but I’ve read the Bible several times, and it’s chalk full of politics. From the exodus, to the prophets, to the words of Jesus, God always shows his solidarity with the poor and the oppressed.

      The Jewish prophets, Jesus, and Mohammad were literally the “woke” “social justice warriors” of their day.

      Saying we need to focus on forgiveness instead of justice flies in the face of so many other passages.

    • Posted by oh ima on

      That’s what Christians want from you, they abuse you and want you to forgive for abusing you. You’re taught well my young Pandewan!

  7. Posted by Name Withheld on

    Why aren’t the ones who were abuse by the Priest and Nun being vocal? Why is NTI President asking them questions on what they think is right?

    Money isn’t going to help forgive.
    When it’s gone, then what??

    Government of Nunavut and NTI fail the people of Nunavut, by not having treatment centre for mental health, addiction in place before going further in putting out B&W store.

    All they are about is money!!!

  8. Posted by Let’s start healing and stop being angry on

    This is a time for healing now. Not judge and ask for more. This is a big deal, the move they have taken.
    Is it not in our culture to forgive and try to move forward? usimmalu inummari

  9. Posted by Pound of flesh and more on

    Apology – done and accepted (for now, they’ll be demands for another apology from the next Pope, and next after that…)
    Revoire – instruct him to return to Canada. Just words, the guy can refuse and if the government can’t get him extradited; get your head out of your hiney if you think the Pope instructing the man to do so will suddenly make it so
    Revoire / Dejarger – excommunicate – what does the bible say about forgiveness and atonement? Would the church be going against its own beliefs by cherry picking which versus to apply and which to trump? Stripping the man of his clergy is in the church’s control. But how can the church excommunicate a clergy rapist who (assumingely) atoned for his wrong doings but not excommunicate a rapist in jail who has found Jesus and atoned?
    Money – sure provide funding to the counselling. But counselling is only good if the people who need it, attend it. Can lead a horse to water but can’t force it to drink. I’d like to see the KPIs on the success of these programs, how many were impacted vs how many attended the cultural and healing programs, and success of their attendance.

  10. Posted by Mass Formation on

    This all seems odd. As if stuck in a time warp of the past for newsworthy chest pounding talk, while ignoring the troubling realities of today. Look at Nunavut Court dockets in city and hamlets to see what keeps on repeating? It’s sexual interference and sexual assaults month and year after year. Troubling to see publication bans because of the age of the victim. If wag the pointing finger back on self (Nunavut) it becomes acceptable silence? Why?

    • Posted by Inuuvunga suli on

      Add to your comment, every single community has had a name come up on that docket. And many are not reported. Living in a small community sometimes its just easier to confront your abuser and make sure everyone is aware of their potential harm. So we really don’t know how many children have been impacted. For those who prefer not to go through the court system, there should be a process to report so the abused can be assisted if they need help. I was abused by a neighbor at the age of 5, next by my best friends dad at age 8 or 9, at 12 years old by my uncle and then their were the rapes after that. I have an ok life because i refuse to own the actions of the ppl who harmed me, I just throw it back to them when it tries entering my mind. I am not ashamed because that shame belongs to the abuser not me. Education and awareness is the key and we need to invest in more healthy life style programs for both the young and the parents. We need to do something for sure because what ever we are doing is not working as we continue to see that court docket with abusers on it. My story has nothing to do with residential school as i didn’t go to one nor did the abusers in my story. I imagine this apology from the pope will and has triggered many and i do hope more people tell their stories in the spirit of working together and how to protect the next generation from this ancient intergeneration harm. We need to stop normalizing it and confront it.

  11. Posted by NBK on

    She should have stayed with the GN.

  12. Posted by Minority Inuk on

    He clearly apologized for the past that was done to minorities.He also said there is so much work to be done with serious investigation to go on.
    It was not him. It was them who served before him.

  13. Posted by Delbert on

    The apology that many indviduals that were attendees of residential schools and some that were not attendees. Is going to be given to them by the POPE. To some it may not seem like much considering how badly they were treated. For years there has those who not only asked but demanded that the Pope come to Canada and issue an apology.
    He is doing that why he is here for that reason. Good for him he recognizes that some thing hat to be said. And the churh has to take reponcesablity for the actions of it’s clergy.
    At least while the Pope is still in Canada show some respect not only for him. But also for the victimes. To make a staments like Aluki Kotriek has. Shows no compassion or grace what so ever. Let the Pope at least leave the country be for all the complaining starts. Let this period of time be a solemn time of grief by those who suffered the most. There is time to make all the negative comments but not now.

  14. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    It is easy to wade into this argument over the value of the Papal visit but if you are non-indigenous and have not experienced all the atrocities experienced by indigenous people just be quiet or be supportive. Think of this example…..the Jews suffered unbelievable atrocities during their history and during the second world war in most recent history. They didn’t “get over it”. They spent decades hunting down the worst of the Nazis and brought them to trial. They at least got some justice. Be one of the righteous and be supportive of indigenous people who have suffered so much and lost so much.

  15. Posted by Delbert on

    C rystal Clarity:
    I in no way intend to mimamize the abuse, neglect and yes deaths that occured in the residential school system. These crimes are heinous.
    But they cannot be compared to the number of Jews, Roma, and disabled people. That were systematicly murdered by the Nazi’s. Hitler wasn’t killing them because he was sexual Predator. They were killed because of thier enethticity or mental or physical defects.
    The camps were set up on a industial scale. So millions could be exterminated. Yes Simon Wethenstal did hunt many of the Nazi war criminals and kill them. There were also the War Crime Tribunals set up after the war. To bring many of the murders to trial. Some were punished with death.
    Many escaped and never were charged for their crimes. As have many not been charged for their crimes. That was perpetrated on mostly innocent children in residential schools.

    • Posted by Crystal Clarity on

      I wasn’t commenting on your post Delbert. Not at all. I was just expressing my opinion on what I have seen on various media platforms over the last several days. You disagree with what I wrote. That’s perfectly fine. We are both entitled to our opinions.


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