The Canadian police announced this Friday the arrest of a catholic priest for an alleged sexual assault committed towards an indigenous student five decades ago. These are the most recent charges filed against one of those involved in the scandal of religious boarding schools in that country, which operated from 1863 to 1998 and in its surroundings more than 1,300 tombs and graves were found in 2021.
This is the now retired Father Arthur Masse, 92, who was charged with indecent assault and then put on trial. conditional freedomthough it is due in court on July 20.
The victim who led to Masse’s arrest He was 10 years old when, according to what he denounced, the abuse began at Fort Alexander boarding school in Manitoba, between 1968 and 1970.
“The victim in this case has been through a lot in the midst of the investigation process and has stood her ground to speak out about what happened to her,” Sergeant Paul Manaigre of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told a news conference.
They operated from 1863 to 1998 and it is estimated that 150,000 children were taken by force.
And he added: “The most important thing for her, on a day like today, is that she was heard.”
In addition, he indicated that 80 officers participated in the investigation, which spanned a decade and that included 75 more possible victims and witnesses.
“So far this is the only investigation (in Manitoba) that is being carried out on internees and this is the only charge charged,” he added.
The dark history of Canada’s Catholic boarding schools
Between the late 19th century and the 1980s, some 150,000 indigenous, mestizo, and Eskimo children were recruited by force in 139 boarding schools in Canada.
Thousands of them died, mostly from malnutrition, disease or neglect, in what the Committee for Truth and Reconciliation called “cultural genocideaccording to a 2015 report. Others were physically or sexually abused.
The Canadian government has admitted that physical and sexual abuse was common in schools.and that students were beaten for speaking in their native languages.
At least 6,000 children died in Canadian boarding schools.
Nearly three-quarters of the 130 residential schools were run by Catholic mission congregations.
The legacy of these abuses and the isolation of the family have been cited by indigenous leaders as one of the main causes of the Pandemic rates of alcohol and drug addiction on Canadian reservations.
There are numerous investigations carried out in the country on the old residential schools, where it is estimated that between 4,000 and 6,000 children disappearedaccording to the authorities.
The public pardon of Pope Francis
Pope Francis asked at the beginning of last April “apologies” for the tragedy of violence practiced for decades in Catholic boarding schools for indigenous people in Canada, and expressed his desire to travel to that country at the end of July.
“I ask God for forgiveness and I join my brother Canadian bishops in apologizing,” the pontiff said during an audience at the Vatican before the Métis, Inuit and First Nations delegations from Canada.
And he continued: “Through the voices of the indigenous people I have received, with great sadness in my heart, the accounts of suffering, deprivation, discriminatory treatment and various forms of abuse suffered by several of you, especially in boarding schools”.
The pope expressed his desire to travel to Canada at the end of July to convey his “closeness” to indigenous peoples: “I would like to be with you this year for the celebration of Saint Anne on July 26.”
With information from AFP.