‘They’ knew, and recycled him to France

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Re Father Joannes Rivoire omi

Karen Bergman

It was 1992 that two women in two separate conversations told me about alleged sexual abuse by Rivoire. I was living in Arviat at the time. I moved there in 1987. (I lived for 22 years in what was then the Northwest Territories.) The first conversation was with  a young married woman who said she’d been sexually abused by Rivoire in Repulse Bay when she was a child. The woman and I were walking by the catholic church when she told me this. The disgust and anger showed on her face.

The second conversation took place the same week. This time it was the then wife of Marius Tungilik. She said her husband told her Rivoire had abused him in Repulse Bay. After this second conversation I wrote a letter to the Bishop in Churchill. I told him what I’d been told.  I said I would not be doing an article for the newspapers I was a stringer for at the time. I guess I trusted my church at the time to do the right thing.

I didn’t hear back from the bishop. Shortly after, Rivoire left Arviat for Winnipeg for a stay at his Order’s house, and a priest came to the community to hear from anyone who had anything to report about Rivoire and sexual abuse. The word was put out quietly, as I recall, and I’m not sure exactly how I found out about it. The first woman who told me about her own sexual abuse by Rivoire asked me to go with her to talk to the “investigating” priest. So I went with her and heard her story.

Rivoire did not come back to Arviat. I moved to Yellowknife on January 13, 1993 and heard afterwards that Rivoire had gone to France to visit his mother who was old and not well. I have always thought that the church paid for his escape from Canada as priests do not have their own money. The church I believed in at the time facilitated the departure of Rivoire from the country, fully aware of the allegations against him.  The bishop at the time had participated in community workshops in Arviat about family abuse and I trusted him to do the right thing when it came to documented abuse allegations about one of his priests. Clearly, my trust was misplaced.

It is not okay to use the excuse that Rivoire is an old and sick man, therefor he should not have to face the allegations against him in a court of law. The church espouses social justice but contradicted themselves when it came to justice for Rivoire’s victims. It is not okay to let the church deal with criminal matters “in house”. The church and its priests are not above the law. The church seems to do very poorly when it comes to justice for their own. That is how I see it.

If the Canadian Government has the authority to extradite Rivoire while he is still alive, I hope they will. I hope they will.

Karen Bergman

1 Response to ‘They’ knew, and recycled him to France

  1. Bob Weber says:

    Hi Karen – I’m a journalist at The Canadian Press and am preparing a story on Rivoire. Can you give me a call at 780-412-6259 or email at bob.weber@thecanadianpress.com? Thanks,

    Bob Weber

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