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‘Far from bankrupt’: Catholic order that ran 48 residential schools faces criticism
For years, Evelyn Korkmaz a survivor of St. Anne’s Indian Residential School in northern Ontario, has sought records and reparations she says the church owes her and other survivors. It’s a campaign that took her to Rome in 2019 for a Vatican summit on sexual abuse.
“They’ve claimed to be poor, bankrupt. I went to the Vatican — they are far from bankrupt,” said Korkmaz, who has received some compensation but is still involved in litigation against the groups that operated residential schools.
Those who have sued the Catholic Church for past wrongdoing say seeking justice is a herculean task, made all the more difficult by the complex corporate structure that they say is designed to protect Catholic entities.
A CBC investigation into one important entity — the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, which ran 48 residential schools across Canada — reveals an elaborate network of more than two dozen corporate holdings with at least $200 million in assets and cash, with a priority to take care of a dwindling number of aging priests in the face of looming liabilities. In fact, an internal church bulletin from 2007 cited the containment of liabilities as one of the main reasons for an order’s corporate restructuring.
The Oblates are among the dozens of Catholic entities that together promised $25 million for a fund approved in 2006 to compensate survivors for the emotional, physical and sexual abuse, as well as systemic violations of basic human rights, suffered in residential schools run by Catholic priests and nuns. But the Catholic groups said they were only able to raise $3.9 million through the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), and in 2015, the federal government released the Catholic Church from its settlement obligations.
A year before that controversial deal, the Oblates sold a large acreage along the Rideau River in Ottawa, earning a handsome profit that critics say is further evidence of the church’s priorities.
“They sold property in Ottawa to the tune of $32 million. We know that they spent over $110 million on the refurbishment of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto. We know that in Saskatoon, they built a $29-million-plus cathedral. At the same time as they’re claiming poverty and unable to pay the reparations. I say that that’s unfair,” said Donald Worme, a Saskatoon lawyer and former lead counsel for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The Oblates of Mary Immaculate say they paid their portion of what was due. “Under the terms of the settlement, the amount each entity paid was not made public,” Oblate Father Ken Thorson said in an email to CBC. “Along with the other Catholic entities, the OMI have contributed a commensurate proportion toward the IRSSA.” Read more on this story here.
Lake Manitoba shows off rare ice formations
(Submitted by Peter Hofbauer)
Pebbly ice formations stretch out across Lake Manitoba from the eastern shore near Steep Rock, about 200 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. A glaciologist says the rare phenomena is due to supercooled water — water that remains liquid below its normal freezing point — being moved and rolled by wind as it begins to solidify. Read more about the “slush balls” here.
British Columbian Marlane Jones thought she was doing the right thing by heading across the border to buy gas in the U.S. Instead, her 10-minute trip ended with a $5,700 fine and scolding from Canadian agents at the Pacific Highway border crossing in Surrey, B.C. “I was in tears. I was a bit frightened. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me,” said the 68-year old.
Jones said she decided to gas up in Blaine, Wash., after seeing the news about Ottawa approving an exemption allowing British Columbians from flood-affected areas to make short trips into the U.S. for gas or essentials without having to provide a negative PCR test for COVID-19. The exemption was introduced to help ease supply shortages resulting from recent extreme rain that washed out highways and rail lines in southwest B.C., and was announced on Sunday. But the border agents Jones dealt with on Monday had no knowledge of it. She’s gone to the courthouse in Surrey, B.C., to file a ticket dispute, and is hoping to hear the fine has been rescinded. Read her story here.
Nova Scotia’s emergency management office has declared a state of emergency for Inverness and Victoria counties on Cape Breton Island after heavy rainfall washed out roads. Many roads are flooded and impassable in Nova Scotia’s northeastern counties and across Cape Breton. People in Inverness and Victoria counties are being told to avoid road travel until further notice due to flooding. Similar warnings have been issued in Antigonish, where the rain also washed out roads. In southwestern Newfoundland, the same weather system is forecast to bring up to 300 millimetres of rain in some places. “For me, this is my first time seeing a rainstorm like this. It’s almost eerily similar to kind of what happened to B.C. just a few weeks ago, with the atmospheric river just pumping lots of moisture into the air,” said Veronica Sullivan of Environment Canada’s weather office in Gander. Read more on the storm’s impact here.
The Conservatives on Tuesday called for a parliamentary committee to publicly investigate claims of political bias made against the clerk of the House of Commons. Clerk Charles Robert was sitting in the chamber on the second day of the new session of Parliament when Conservative MPs demanded a public probe. Earlier this month, CBC News reported three senior managers went on sick leave and left their jobs over concerns about Robert’s work performance. A fourth executive is currently on sick leave. The auditor also walked off the job over concerns Robert created a conflict of interest by removing the ability for the auditor to take concerns directly to the Speaker, sources said. Two of the departing managers submitted letters to Robert’s supervisor, the Speaker, claiming he broke the cardinal rule of his job and acted in a way they perceived as biased toward the Liberals, treated some staff members with disrespect and was regularly seen sleeping on the job. Read more on the call for an investigation.
With provinces and territories now rolling out plans to COVID-19 vaccinate children aged five to 11, many parents eagerly signed their children up to be among the first in line. But not everyone is pouncing on the opportunity. Nathan Maharaj and his wife were up bright and early Tuesday registering their nine-year-old son for his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto. Nathan is excited Edmund can feel safer returning to karate classes, and will feel more comfortable planning visits to attractions or the movies. In Coquitlam, B.C., Mike Romaniuk is digging through news sites and studies about how both COVID-19 and the vaccines for it are affecting children. While everyone in his family is up to date with B.C.’s recommended immunizations and received this season’s flu shot, he is still unsure about the COVID-19 vaccine for his daughters Harper and Georgia, who are respectively aged four and two. The drive to vaccinate younger children against COVID-19 could prove tougher and perhaps take longer than earlier age groups, but medical experts say they’re ready to answer all questions and meet parents and caregivers where they’re at. Read more on this story here.
As billionaires race to the stars, many have been quick to throw shade on the rich for spending money on joyrides to space instead of solving problems on Earth. But a Canadian astronaut is reminding people that space exploration has the power to contribute to life-changing advances on our planet. “You can argue whether or not we need to go to Mars. I think that’s not the point. We will go to Mars because it’s there and we want to explore,” said Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques. “But going to Mars is going to require figuring out recycling. We’re going to become masters at air, water and recycling, at food production. That’s going to help us on Earth.” In an interview with CBC News, the astronaut and family physician said that while essentials such as health care, education, employment and security should always take priority, he believes a fraction of our resources must also be devoted to dreaming big — through the arts, exploration and science. Read how space exploration is helping to advance telemedicine.
Now for some good news to start your Wednesday: Two Halifax women, complete strangers to each other, recently got to go on the trip of a lifetime to Sable Island in the Atlantic Ocean, with the help of a charity that grants unfulfilled wishes to seniors. The charity, called We Are Young, put the two women together and flew them to the island. For one of the women, it allowed her to see the place where her grandfather’s lighthouse once stood. For the other, she finally got to visit the island and see the horses she’d thought about when she was a child. Watch the video from CBC’s Tom Murphy here.
First Person: ‘I believe you’: The words that changed how I felt about my sexual assault
The RCMP officer believed me when I wasn’t sure I could believe myself and when I was wrapped in so much shame and guilt over my sexual assault, writes Jacqueline Mills. Read her column here.
Front Burner: WE Charity misled donors about building schools in Kenya
Marc and Craig Kielburger’s WE Charity routinely misled school-aged children and wealthy philanthropists across North America for years as it solicited millions for schoolhouses in Kenya in its Adopt-A-Village program, an investigation by CBC’s The Fifth Estate has found. WE denies it has misled donors.
Today, Mark Kelley explains what the team found over the course of the investigation, and the obstacles they faced while reporting the story.
Front Burner27:40WE Charity misled donors about building schools in Kenya
Today in history: November 24
1807: Mohawk leader Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) dies at Burlington Bay, in present day Ontario. He fought on the British side in the American Revolutionary War and later led his people to Ontario’s Grand River Valley.
1892: Sir John Abbott, third prime minister of Canada and the first to be born in Canada, steps down and is succeeded by Sir John S.D. Thompson.
1963: Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, is shot to death by nightclub owner Jack Ruby while being transferred between jails in Dallas.
1981: The Metric Commission of Canada announces the full conversion to the metric system in food stores across Canada. The changeover from imperial units to metric was to be implemented simultaneously in 21 areas across Canada in January 1982, and cover the rest of the country within two years.