Manitoba First Nation open to possible police probe of accused priest, who worked there in early 1960s

WARNING: This story accommodates distressing particulars.

The chief of a Manitoba First Nation says he is open to the concept of police investigating the conduct of a former residential college priest now dealing with a legal cost for abusing a baby at a college in one other Indigenous group within the province. 

Minegoziibe Anishinabe (Pine Creek) First Nation Chief Derek Nepinak mentioned Friday retired Father Arthur Masse additionally hung out on the Pine Creek Residential College northwest of Winnipeg and was “infamous” there.

Masse, 92, faces a cost in reference to the sexual assault of a 10-year-old feminine pupil on the Fort Alexander residential college, northeast of Winnipeg, someday between 1968 and 1970. 

Masse was the principal of what was known as the Pine Creek residential college from July 1961 to July 1966, in keeping with information from the Nationwide Centre for Fact and Reconciliation.

“I perceive that there are individuals which will wish to communicate and … as a group now, we’re opening up a dialogue to see if any of our group members wish to talk about their run-ins and their encounters with this particular person,” Nepinak mentioned. 

“I’ve heard tales about how he is handled younger individuals in the neighborhood,” he mentioned. 

Info compiled by the Societe historique de Saint-Boniface, an archive in Manitoba, mentioned Masse was born in Ferland, Sask., in 1929. His first put up was on the Fort Frances residential college in northern Ontario, the place he stayed till 1957. 

He later returned to that college in 1970 and oversaw the scholar residence till it closed 4 years later. Masse labored at plenty of different faculties throughout his time away from Fort Frances.

Nepinak mentioned the Catholic Church retains a presence in his group and members will meet subsequent week with Archbishop Albert LeGatt of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface to speak in regards to the historical past of the church there. 

“And we’ll ask a few of these tough questions which are being raised as we speak, like why was [Masse] allowed to maneuver from one group to the subsequent for thus a few years when actually there would have been trigger for concern and incidents that might have been reported however but unaddressed,” Nepinak mentioned. 

New potential unmarked graves

Information of Masse’s arrest got here on the identical day the group discovered floor penetrating radar searches of and across the grounds of the previous residential college had turned up 27 new anomalies which might be unmarked graves. 

Earlier in June, the group reported discovering six such anomalies after a Might search. The college, on the western shore of Lake Winnipegosis, was constructed within the Eighteen Nineties and closed in 1969.

AltoMaxx employees use a drone on Might 11 as a part of a floor penetrating radar search on Pine Creek First Nation in Manitoba. After an preliminary search turned up six anomalies, the group reported Friday additional looking turned up one other 27. (Angela McKay/Pine Creek First Nation)

One other search is scheduled for Monday. 

The invention of extra anomalies is no surprise, Nepinak mentioned.

“I feel that the group has been bracing for affect for the final variety of months … There is a heavy feeling, heavy hearts in our group, realizing that there is oftentimes extra questions than there are solutions when these kind of issues are taking place. 

“However general, I feel the group’s doing the perfect we will with the data, and we’re taking it sooner or later at a time.” 

In a press release to the group on behalf of himself and council, Nepinak mentioned they’d work with the Catholic church and the information they have been capable of acquire to date to see if any of the anomalies correspond with designated gravesites. 

They can even cross-reference the maps with identified names of youngsters who died whereas on the college. “However we’ve got extra work to do as these information are incomplete,” the assertion mentioned. 

Nepinak mentioned the group has but to resolve whether or not it can exhume any of the potential gravesites. 

“That is nonetheless a really tough query to ask. By no means thoughts discover solutions to what’s the acceptable commemoration,” he mentioned.

“We’re having these discussions and … we’re taking it sooner or later at a time and we’re asking these tough questions, however we’re not asking for instant solutions. We’re simply hopefully going to reach at a spot that everybody can settle for the issues that we do and we documented correctly in order that our youngsters’s kids know what we did throughout these instances,” mentioned Nepinak. 

Help is obtainable for anybody affected by their expertise at residential faculties or by the most recent reviews.

A nationwide Indian Residential College Disaster Line has been set as much as present help for former college students and people affected. Individuals can entry emotional and disaster referral companies by calling the 24-hour nationwide disaster line: 1-866-925-4419.

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