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Retired Priest Charged with Indecent Assault

Source: Société historique de Saint-Boniface Archives

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has charged a 92-year-old retired priest with indecent assault after an investigation was done concerning a former residential school, Fort Alexander Residential School, in Winnipeg. The retired priest, known as Father Arthur Masse, was arrested at his home in Winnipeg but was later released with conditions and a court date on July 20 in Power-view, Manitoba.


During a press conference, it was said that the incident took place between 1968 and 1970. The victim was 10 years old and a student at the school, while the priest was in his late 30s to early 40s at that time. IT confirmed that the now-retired priest was an employee at the residential school during the given time, but it is unknown what his role at the residential school was. The school was opened in 1905 in what was formerly known as Fort Alexander, now known as Sagkeeng First Nation. The school was closed in 1970, 52 years ago.


The investigation involving the residential school had begun in 2010, the investigation was done as thoroughly as possible as it involved more than 700 interactions across North America. This investigation led to 75 witnesses and victim statements and a review of the archived records of the school like the list of students present and all employees.


A sergeant from the RCMP stated during the press conference that this was the only open and current investigation that was being done into residential schools by the RCMP in Manitoba but if new claims should come forward, the police will investigate them. He said this because of how long ago this was, some of the victims found were not able to contribute to the investigation because of issues pertaining to their physical and mental health or some of them had already passed away. This statement was made as a way of encouraging other victims that are alive and able to participate in the investigation to speak up in order for them to get justice.


Chief Derrick Henderson told Global News that he was relieved that the lengthy investigation into the residential school resulted in this outcome. He said this because Indigenous people have always been telling stories of how they were treated in these residential schools and now there is somebody being held responsible for some part of the maltreatment they received.


The investigation in the surrounding vicinity of this residential school has resulted in 190 discoveries being made from the ground, there is an ongoing investigation to discover if those were bodies and the site in which they discovered them was an unmarked grave for the residential school. Sagkeeng First Nation began its search in June of 2021 after the discovery of the numerous bodies found in an unmarked grave in Kamloops, B.C.

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