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Support of Indigenous Complainants

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Hadeeh – Hello:
This is a fundraiser on behalf of all of those who attended the schools of the Prince George Diocese between 1958 and 1977. Funds will go towards defraying legal costs incurred at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in a case alleging racism against the RCMP.
We are happy to announce that the hearings of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal started May 1 at The Gathering Place in Ts'il Kaz Koh territory in Burns Lake. From there there were virtual hearings in June, and then again in September. We're so proud of all of the witnesses who spoke with great courage about the abuse we all suffered at Immaculata Day School and Prince George College, and how the RCMP said it as legal discipline when we came forward about it in 2012. We were violently abused simply for being First Nation children, and we believe the human rights tribunal understands this, and that the RCMP, not only did not investigate properly, but protected our abuser who became a powerful and influential Canadian.
We were lucky at the hearing to have excellent counsellors from the Indian Residential School Survivor Society who took good care of us. Hearing commence again virtually in October and November. It's a long dark journey, but we believe there will be light and justice soon, so we appreciate all the support--financial and moral that people are giving us.

Here's media coverage of the hearings:
Thank you to all who got us here, and hoping more people will help with this struggle for truth and justice.
Older coverage:
Our Story:
This story started with Catholic missionaries sent to Northern B.C. in 1842. A trickle would become a flood as the resource sector and the federal government realized that the land on which Indigenous people lived held valuable commodities.
The Nedut’en, meaning “People That Live Further Up,” had lived on Lake Babine forever, but by the 1950’s and ‘60’s were forced off these lands, made to live in the Village of Burns Lake, and forced to take the name of their lake—which the missionaries had re-named “Babine”. One of the main services the Northwest Mounted Police (now RCMP) provided was to clear Indigenous people off valuable land, and kidnap children who would be sent to church-run residential and day schools.
The experience of the students starts in Burns Lake at Immaculata Day School, where most students were Indigenous. They say the RCMP would beat-up anyone who dared to stand up for themselves, and acted as truant officers who caught children who ran away from the abusive schools, returning them for more abuse.
A missionary arrived in 1969 to teach physical education. The school was a torture chamber as children, who spoke only Carrier, were severely punished for not speaking English, but it became worse, allege former students, after this particular phys ed teacher arrived. The next year that missionary and his wife (also a missionary) moved to Prince George College where they lived in Hostel #2 with 16 girls. Indigenous students who went to that high school said the abuse continued. No one ever went to the police.
After 2003 people started seeing a man on TV--it was their former phys ed teacher. He was still involved in sport. They couldn’t believe the man who dragged them to the boiler room where more abusers waited was now a powerful Canadian. Buried memories returned; the rest of Canada may have loved the event he was involved in, but former students could not risk seeing him on TV. Depression and PTSD set in. Still, no one went to the police.
In September 2012, after interviewing 22 First Nations people, Vancouver’s Georgia Straight newspaper ran a story about him. Two months earlier, Ms. Beverly Abraham gave a statement to the RCMP, alleging historic sexual abuse. Charges were not laid, but this time people hoped they would be heard and told the RCMP about being slapped, punched, kicked, attacked with hockey sticks, basketballs, medicine balls, and metre sticks, dragged by the hair, the ear, the arm to the boiler room or the principal’s office by him. Their crime was simply being Indigenous children. The RCMP called it corporal punishment and investigated no further. More people alleged sexual abuse. None of their allegations were investigated either. Most never spoke with the RCMP, sometimes because the RCMP never bothered to track them down, or because they remembered how the police had treated them, their family, and friends. Many were terrified, no one trusted the RCMP—including those who tried to tell them their story.
Here is the timeline of measures taken for justice for Indigenous Peoples of Northern BC and the fight against racism in the RCMP:
* January 2017: The Canadian Human Rights Commission accepted our complaint of racism and bias against the RCMP
* June 2018: The Commission moved the case to an in-depth investigation.
* January 31, 2020: The Commission wrote to Dave Thomas, Chair of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, requesting that a Tribunal be held into allegations of racism and bias in the RCMP investigation of “an alleged abuser”. That abuser is our former phys ed teacher during his days as a Catholic missionary in Northern B.C. in the late 1960’s to mid-1970’s.
* June 29, 2020: We filed our Statement of Particulars about the case with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. You can read the full document in this CBC article: .
The RCMP’s “investigation” of our former teacher was rife with systemic racism and bias. Approximately only 8% of complaints to the Commission are referred to the Tribunal; this case has stood the test of scrutiny, and cleared the high bar set by the Commission. The complainants’ allegations about this teacher were not afforded a thorough, professional and transparent investigation, therefore they were denied their right to a level of service by a federal agency normally afforded to Canadians. They also allege the RCMP held a bias. During the “investigation” the RCMP were surveilling Indigenous protesters against pipelines in Northern B.C., protests that many of the survivors of the phys ed teacher's abuse attended. They had endless manpower to watch Indigenous people, but not investigate abuse allegations.
This road to justice has taken many people over three years of diligent research, writing, travel and document filing. The phase it is in now requires significant legal costs so that a top human-rights lawyer—Karen Bellehumeur who represents the complainants, can hold the RCMP to account. This case will help address the pervasive racism within the RCMP across this land, and shine a light on a history of discrimination and colonialization.
While Ms. Bellehumeur has decreased her rates significantly, given the importance of the case, we still need to raise a minimum of $100,000.00, and hope you will help.
This is a story about the legacy of day and residential schools in the lives of Indigenous peoples, coupled with the colonial and racist roots of the RCMP. Their voices can now be heard, with your help.

Mesiy -Thank you,

Cathy Woodgate                                Ann Tom

Dorothy Williams                               Maurice Joseph

Emma Williams                  Hereditary Chief Richard Perry

Complainant representative: Hereditary Chief Ronnie West


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Dorothy Williams
Burns Lake, BC

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