In the pursuit of justice and closure to a traumatic page in the Kivalliq’s past, some high-profile Inuit are calling for Nunavummiut to bring forth evidence and allegations against former priest Johannes Rivoire.
“Our parents and grandparents have dealt with pain and anger while this man has been allowed to go free for too long,” said Nunavut MP Lori Idlout. “I am committed to making sure that Nunavummiut abused by Johannes Rivoire get the justice they deserve.”
Currently living in France, Rivoire was a priest in the Kivalliq region in the 1960s and ‘70s. He was charged with indecent assault and sexual assault in the 1990s, but those charges were stayed in 2017.
In the House of Commons earlier this month, Minister of Justice David Lametti told Idlout that he can’t resurrect stayed charges, but if further evidence is brought forward against Rivoire, the Justice Department could re-examine the case.
Now, Idlout is asking Nunavummiut to bring that evidence forward so Canada can pursue a case against the former priest again.
“I understand that this is a very difficult thing for many to speak about,” said Idlout. “I want everyone to know that my team and I are here to help anyone who has been affected by his atrocities. It is important that Rivoire faces the strongest repercussions for the harm he committed in our communities.”
Former Nunavut commissioner Piita Irniq backs her call.
“I fully support our Nunavut MP Lori Idlout for her calling on the Government of Canada to extradite Rivoire back to Canada,” he said.
He said he knew quite a few alleged victims of Rivoire, one being his friend Marius Tungilik, who died by suicide in 2012.
“He never, ever forgot about Rivoire all the time he was alive,” said Irniq. “Rivoire had a horrible impact on young Marius. He always talked about Rivoire, the time that he sexually abused him when he was a little boy.”
Irniq echoes Idlout’s call for Nunavummiut with evidence or allegations against the former priest to bring such details to the RCMP.
“If he’s brought back to Canada to stand trial, that would put at least a closure to that horrible crime that he did to the young Inuit children and the victims would begin to have an opportunity to start healing,” he said. “Because every time we talk about him and he’s not back here and they’re not doing anything about him, the victims are re-traumatized. That has to stop sometime and the healing process must begin.”