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Canada needs special prosecutor to investigate crimes at residential schools, Nunavut MP says

Click to play video: 'NDP MPs call on justice minister to investigate crimes against Indigenous peoples at residential schools' NDP MPs call on justice minister to investigate crimes against Indigenous peoples at residential schools
WATCH ABOVE: NDP MPs call on justice minister to investigate crimes against Indigenous peoples at residential schools – Jul 8, 2021

Nunavut’s member of Parliament is calling on the federal government to appoint a special prosecutor to delve into crimes committed against Indigenous people.

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq says perpetrators of abuse at institutions such as residential schools and tuberculosis sanatoria need to be brought to justice.

Read more: B.C. First Nation demands Pope Francis visit Canada to see the aftermath of residential schools

“Enough is enough,” said Qaqqaq.

“Indigenous people need truth and justice, not only about individual abusers like Rivoire but about the hellhole of all genocidal residential school systems. We need a full and independent investigation that has the power to shine a light on every facet of this national crime and has the power to bring perpetrators to justice.”

Qaqqaq points to the example of Johannes Rivoire, an Oblate priest accused of sexual abuse against Inuit children in several Nunavut communities.

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She says it’s unacceptable he’s been able to live in retirement in France without facing trial.

Rivoire, now 90, was in Canada from the early 1960s to 1993, when he returned to France. He worked in the Nunavut communities of Arviat, Rankin Inlet and Naujaat.

He faced at least three charges of sexual abuse relating to his time in those communities and a warrant for his arrest was issued in 1998. But in 2019, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada confirmed those charges wouldn’t be proceeding _ at least partly due to France’s reluctance to extradite its citizens for crimes committed elsewhere.

But the Inuit desire to see Rivoire face trial has never faded. In a June 30 letter to Justice Minister David Lametti, the president of the body that oversees the Nunavut Land Claim demanded the charges be reactivated through new evidence.

Click to play video: 'Focusing on children’s mental health amid residential school grave discoveries' Focusing on children’s mental health amid residential school grave discoveries
Focusing on children’s mental health amid residential school grave discoveries – Jul 8, 2021

Qaqqaq says the federal government has a trove of documents that would shed light on what happened in those institutions that a prosecutor would be able to reveal.

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Read more: Residential schools: What we know about their history and how many died

Qaqqaq, who has announced she won’t seek re-election, says crimes committed against Inuit children continue to echo through Nunavut communities.

“Abusers) caused possible generations of trauma,” she said.

“Child sexual abuse in Nunavut is rampant. There is a reason for that.”

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