NTI is planning a trip to France with the aim of boarding Rivoire on a plane for Canada

NTI is in the early stages of planning a possible delegation of Inuit to France to seek the extradition of Father Johannes Rivoire, a priest accused of historic sexual abuse in Nunavut. Pictured is Rivoire in an old, undated photo taken in Chesterfield Inlet. (Photo courtesy of Lieve Halsberghe)

Inuit delegation to seek extradition of disgraced priest accused of historic sexual abuse


madalyn howitt

A delegation of Inuit may soon travel to France to seek the extradition of a priest accused of historic sexual abuse in Nunavut, an NTI spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. is in the preliminary stages of planning the trip, Hannah Uniuqsaraq, director of self-determination at NTI, said in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

Johannes Rivoire, 91, spent more than 30 years in Nunavut between 1960 and 1992 as a parish priest, mainly in Arviat and Naujaat.

He was accused of sexually assaulting boys and girls during this time, some as young as six years old.

Rivoire left Canada for France in 1993 and has remained there ever since.

In February, the RCMP charged Rivoire with indecent assault, stemming from incidents involving a young girl in Arviat and Whale Cove, which allegedly occurred between 1974 and 1979. Although France has an extradition treaty with the Canada, French law protects its citizens against extradition.

Previous sexual assault charges against the priest were stayed in 2017, after the Public Prosecution Service of Canada concluded there was no reasonable chance of conviction.

Lieve Halsberghe, a longtime advocate against clergy abuse, has been fighting for years to bring Rivoire back to Canadian soil to face his accusers.

She was in Iqaluit on July 29 to attend Pope Francis’ address to Nakasuk Elementary School, where he apologized for the role members of the Catholic Church have played in running Canada’s residential school system. where abuse against Indigenous children has occurred.

Halsberghe, who lives in Belgium, said she planned to meet the delegation when they finally arrive in France, which could be as early as September.

She said the best-case scenario for the outcome of the trip is “Rivoire is taking a plane to Canada. This is the real objective. »

“The second objective is to inform the French public about the harboring of these criminals,” she said.

In July, Federal Justice Minister David Lametti confirmed that an extradition request had been made by Canada to the French government for the priest’s return to justice in Canada.