The Saskatchewan Opposition renewed its calls for a government-led investigation into several recently announced allegations of abuse at an independent Christian school in Saskatoon.
Speaking to reporters in Regina Monday afternoon, Saskatchewan NDP education critic Matt Love said the public deserves government oversight of the developing situation at Legacy Christian Academy (formerly Christian Centre Academy).
“This minister should be leading an investigation into what they knew about the situation, when they knew it and what changes should be taking place to make sure those children are safe,” Love told reporters.
“We don’t think they need to wait until a criminal investigation is done to carry out their own investigation and to reassure Saskatchewan families that every child that enters a school in Saskatchewan will be safe, will be valued and will be respected.”
Global News has reached out to the government of Saskatchewan for a response.
Last week, the Saskatchewan NDP called on the provincial government to freeze funding for Legacy Christian Academy, which is facing abuse claims from former students.
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According to two people interviewed by Global News, 18 former students have come forward with allegations of abuse while they attended the school, which was named Christian Centre Academy at the time.
One former student, Coy Nolin, alleged that in 2004 he was kicked out of the school for being gay and that an exorcism was performed on him.
Nolin said he filed a police report with the Saskatoon Police Service last year. Saskatoon police say that investigation is ongoing.
Another former student described her and her classmates being paddled for “whispering” while in church while she was in Grade 12 and being spoken to “in tongues” by a teacher when she was around eight because the teacher mistook anxiety and nervousness for demons.
“The teacher at the time seemed to think that that meant I had a demon, so she would keep me in at break times and rock me in her lap while she spoke in tongues, is what they called it,” Christina Hutchinson told Global News
“It was an exorcism in the sense that she was trying to drive a demon out of me. I didn’t know what she was doing and I didn’t have any control over it.”
While the NDP is only calling for an investigation into goings-on at Legacy Christian Academy, human rights critic Meara Conway said the situation casts doubt on the government’s ability to ensure students are safe in independent schools.
“If an institution in Saskatchewan is in receipt of one single dollar from this province, the minister of education should be confident that the basic human rights of attending students are being upheld,” she said.
Education Minister Dustin Duncan has not been made available for interviews since the accusations were first reported by CBC News last week.
“The minister has to start with addressing these particular incidents,” Conway said.
On Monday the NDP again renewed its call for the government to halt funding to Legacy Christian Academy until such an investigation is completed.
Love also voiced concerns about private schools being exempt from freedom of information requests
“The level of accountability that parents and families have, also taxpayers, is simply not present in this situation.”
In 2021-22, Legacy Christian Academy received $736,274 in operational funding plus an additional $188,156 in emergency pandemic support, according to government documents.
— with files from Kelly Skjerven