Statement On Acquittal of Ex-priest Accused of Sexual Misconduct at Fort Alexander Residential School

March 30, 2023

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) expresses its support for Victoria McIntosh and recognizes her tremendous courage in coming forward to testify in court and share her story as she sought justice for the abuse she endured while attending Fort Alexander Residential School.

Today, Arthur Masse, 93, was acquitted of charges filed last year of assaulting a First Nations girl between 1968 and 1970 at the Fort Alexander Residential School. The woman was ten years old at the time of the assault.

“Studies estimate that approximately 5000 people committed a sex crime at a residential school during the system’s 100-year existence,” said Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “We know that victims of assault are often reluctant to come forward because they feel that they are somehow responsible for the attack, and it is alarming to see another victim denied justice for the unimaginable harms experienced in those institutions. This sets a concerning precedent for how the courts hold offenders of these atrocities accountable. A larger conversation must happen with government and First Nations leadership to hold these people responsible while we still can.”

On July 25, 2022, Pope Francis apologized to members of the Catholic Church who co-operated with Canada’s “devastating” policy of residential schools. As part of Pope Francis’s apology, he stated: “We want to walk together, to pray together and to work together, so that the sufferings of the past can lead to a future of justice, healing and reconciliation.”

“As First Nations, we live with the trauma that occurred to our grandparents and parents while they attended residential school. That trauma extends from the past and into future generations. Healing comes in various forms- internally and externally; unfortunately, the justice system is preventing the healing that is needed for our families. Today’s verdict is telling us that those who represent the church are above the law as there is much evidence that proves that these abuses occurred in residential schools,” concluded Grand Chief Merrick.

*Please note the content of this new release may be triggering as it discusses Residential School abuse. The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program has a hotline to help residential school survivors and their relative’s suffering trauma invoked by the recall of past abuse. The number is 1-866-925-4419.

For more information, please contact:
Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) peoples.