Caitlin Erickson, a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against a Saskatoon-area Christian school was forced to relocate her family after a fire in her home.
This has been the second incident in a matter of days. Erickson believes that she has been targeted for speaking out about abuse she says she experienced at a church-run school.
Erickson and two other former students and members of Legacy Christian Academy and what is now known as Two-Mile Church have launched a class action lawsuit claiming they were abused by staff while attending the institutions. The allegations have not been tested in court.
Erickson said she has been a victim of harassment since the day the lawsuit was announced.
Erickson said that following the lawsuit announcement, a masked man that identified with the accused church approached her and followed her to her car.
“He was wearing a mask and wearing a toque and it was August. It was very, very hot that day. And he had a cellphone in his hand, he looked like he was recording — he has his hand in his pocket and he has something in his pocket.”
On Nov. 10, Erickson said her daughter woke up to some graffiti and the dog run gate had been opened.
“I did a 360 around my house to see if there was any more graffiti and noticed that my cameras were down,” said Erickson.
Erickson has also received death threats via email with a bible verse, “For our God is a consuming fire”.
“I had received an email and it was quoting the scripture verse that was spray-painted on my house and I received a note on my deck and had my cameras ripped off.”
Erickson said she and her family left the house after the vandalism Thursday but returned for a brief moment on Friday.
“My nephew and I were in the house for, you know, a couple of minutes maybe and we heard somebody in the house and ran out.”
She called the RCMP reporting a break and enter. Later, the RCMP contacted Erickson and said there had been an emergency.
“The officer was very — it was hard for him to say,” she said. “You could tell on the phone and he said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this, but you had house fire’.”
Erickson and her family were not home during the time of the fire, but half of their belongings have been lost. Unfortunately, the family’s pet snake, hamster and two geckos did not survive. The family’s dogs are safe, however, one is suffering from smoke inhalation.
“There’s two to three feet of water in the basement and there’s smoke damage through the whole upstairs.”
“I don’t think it has fully set in, but I’ve been more focused on just keeping making sure the kids are okay.”
Erickson has one child of her own, six adopted children and one nephew in her care. One child has since graduated and lives on his own.
Erickson’s family has relocated for their safety. She said that she will be taking some time before moving forward, but these incidents are not going to affect her engagement with the lawsuit.
“Everything is still going to roll forward and obviously going to have some different approaches or, you know, some more safety. But yeah, it’s definitely not going to inhibit us from going forward with this.”
RCMP are still investigating the vandalism and fire investigators with the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency have taken control of the fire investigation.
They are unable to comment on whether the two incidents are linked at this time.
Global News contacted the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, but they were not able to comment by deadline.
The opposition party called on the Saskatchewan government to do more about the abuse allegations.
“Can the Sask. party government do something, anything really to set an example to ensure that those speaking out about their abuse can do so without worrying about their safety?” asked Matt Love, Saskatchewan NDP education critic.
Education Minister Dustin Duncan condemned the house fire and any reprisals against people speaking out.
“The Ministry of Education took immediate action to ensure that the people named in those allegations, that that information was sent to the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory body within a day.”