Abuse in Canadian residential schools identical to here, says clergyman

 

A CANADIAN clergyman has described the abuse experienced by native children in residential schools in Canada as identical to abuse in Ireland.

“The stories are identical including the extent to which police and government colluded to protect perpetrators” said the Rev Kevin Annett, a former minister of the United Church of Canada.

Mr Annett spoke at a demonstration outside the Dáil yesterday, organised by the Templemore Forgotten Victims group, which has called for a full inquiry into the deaths of children in residential institutions, and a proper burial.

Mr Annett has worked for 20 years with “aboriginal children incarcerated in boarding schools under law by government and churches, both Catholic and Protestant. The parents lost all custody of their children. It went on from 1880 to the 1970s and the last school in Canada only closed down in 1996.”

The Canadian clergyman said he was fired from the United Church for highlighting the abuse and allowing victims speak from the pulpit in his church.

Working with survivors in Canada “you hear the same stories all the time. The same crimes, the same murders and unfortunately the same cover-up.”

He said abuse was an international problem. “People tend to think they’re alone but they’re not.”

There was a need to “unite across borders to let people know they’re not alone”.

He had protested outside the Vatican in Rome and said Pope Benedict was “criminally complicit” in abuse, because of the policy not to inform police when cases were reported.

Survivors presented Mr Annett with children’s shoes, represent- ing young victims of clerical sex abuse.

Rosaleen Rogers, who established the Templemore Forgotten Victims group with her husband Roy, said she wanted the truth about “the harm that was done to me” and redress.

She spent three years in St Luke’s in Clonmel but said psychiatric institutions were excluded from the institutional redress board.

There should be a full inquiry with “evidence given under oath”, she said. She also called for the proper identification of children who died in institutions and were buried in unmarked graves.

That needed to be fully investigated, she said.

Mr Rogers asked why no TD or Minister came out to meet them during their protest.

“Why aren’t they listening to what we’re saying?”

He said Government and the church had “an awful lot to answer for”.