'We all believed he was possessed,' says boy who witnessed exorcism at Sask. Bible camp

·7 min read
Parker Bond, left, sits with his mother Marci in Saskatoon. Parker witnessed an exorcism in the cabin he was staying in as a camper at Redberry Bible Camp. (Jason Warick/CBC - image credit)
Parker Bond, left, sits with his mother Marci in Saskatoon. Parker witnessed an exorcism in the cabin he was staying in as a camper at Redberry Bible Camp. (Jason Warick/CBC - image credit)

As Parker Bond's parents drove him home from Redberry Bible Camp through the midnight darkness, the 14-year-old boy wouldn't stop repeating the phrase, "Jesus is lord. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is lord."

Parker and the other boys in his camp cabin had just been subjected to an exorcism. They were so terrified they called their parents to rescue them.

But the boys weren't afraid of the camp worker who yelled and drew crosses in water on one boy's forehead, or the staff members who were present. Parker said he and the other boys wanted to escape the demons that had infiltrated the camp.

"It was all real.… we all believed he was possessed by multiple different demons," Parker said of the July 13 exorcism.

"They said it was a spiritual hotspot. That's why there had been all that demonic activity there."

Parker and his mother, Marci, agreed to an interview with CBC News Wednesday afternoon. It followed two days of conversations with the family about the best way to allow Parker to share his story. Marci Bond was present at all times during the interview inside their home just west of Saskatoon.

Parker and his mother say the exorcism was traumatic. They're also angry about the four days of indoctrination, sleep deprivation and exhaustion that led up to it, and that it appears to have been promoted, or at least sanctioned, by multiple, top Redberry camp officials, they say.

"As a parent, it's pretty scary that you drop your kid off on a Sunday, he has one set of thoughts and beliefs. You pick him up on Wednesday and he's not the same kid," Marci said.

CBC has requested interviews with Carlos Doerksen, the man who performed the exorcism, along with Redberry's executive director Roland Thiessen and board chair Wayne Dick. None of them have returned the interview requests.

Dick previously said the camp was taking the incident seriously and investigating.

Don Somers/CBC
Don Somers/CBC

Man who did exorcism calls self an 'apostle'

Parker Bond attended Redberry Bible Camp in 2019 and was looking forward to his first camp experience since the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.

He arrived at the camp, one of Canada's oldest, along with dozens of other kids on July 10. The hours-long late-night lectures about being a "true Christian" and the signs of "demonic possession" began immediately from the man placed in charge of their cabin, Carlos Doerksen.

Redberry Bible Camp website
Redberry Bible Camp website

Unknown to parents, Doerksen had a recent history of pornography and drug addiction, domestic violence and firing from his previous job as a camp counsellor, all detailed on Doerksen's own Facebook page. The 24-year-old said Jesus saved him two years ago and now describes himself as an "apostle" who can speak directly to God.

The boys were told to constantly watch for signs of demonic possession, which included flickering lights, certain "evil" TV shows or even mild feelings of anger, Doerksen said.

They'd listen to Doerksen until 5 a.m. CST, sleep a bit and then head out for a full day of outdoor activities.

"It was hot that week," Parker said.

Parker said that by Wednesday, demons were the only topic of conversation in the cabin. They were all anxious and on constant lookout.

The Wednesday evening exorcism wasn't the first one performed in their cabin, Parker said. That same morning, one boy admitted he had played with an Ouija board. Carlos performed a short exorcism on the boy, yelling and speaking in tongues before declaring the demon purged, Parker said.

After they returned to the cabin Wednesday night, Doerksen told them that a void is left inside someone when a demon is banished. That void must be filled with goodness, or seven demons will quickly return, Parker said.

At some point, a boy collapsed on the cabin floor, Parker said. That's when Doerksen began another exorcism. It was roughly 10 p.m. Parker said all the boys cowered silently in their sleeping bags.

"He had a jar of water. He would dab a little bit on his fingers and put a cross on the kid's forehead, and then he started speaking in tongues and then saying things like, 'Filthy spirit, leave this vessel! In the name of Jesus, leave this boy!' He would alternate from speaking in tongues to commanding the demons to leave," Parker said.

Watch Parker describe the exorcism: 

Parker said he didn't want to be there, but stayed because he didn't want the demon to escape.

Parker said Redberry executive director Roland Thiessen eventually came into the cabin and saw what was happening, but didn't try to stop it. He said Thiessen watched for about 10 minutes before removing some of the most terrified boys, including Parker.

Redberry Bible Camp website
Redberry Bible Camp website

The boys were taken to the main camp building, where they were allowed to call their parents to pick them up.

"[Parker] could barely speak," Marci said.

"'I know this is going to be really hard for you to understand.… I saw an exorcism tonight and I want to come home.' You know, you don't expect those words to ever come out of your kid's mouth.

"He said, 'The kid, that boy had demons in him, mom.'"

Boy now sees he was deceived

Marci and her husband drove up immediately and were met by Thiessen. She said Thiessen told her they are "really lucky this year to have a leader with a special gift from God. He can speak to God, and God speaks back to him."

Marci said she was shocked, and got her son out of Redberry as fast as possible.

Parker kept repeating the "Jesus is lord" phrase to prevent the demon from following them home, he said. When they got inside the house at 2 a.m., Parker wouldn't go to sleep until he said a series of prayers in his room to protect it from demons.

Jason Warick/CBC
Jason Warick/CBC

Marci, Parker and other families gave statements to RCMP. This week, RCMP announced the investigation is closed and no charges will be laid.

Parker said that's a mistake. He asked how police can stop investigating when information is still coming out.

The Saskatchewan Camps Association, a voluntary accreditation body, sent a statement Wednesday to CBC News saying it is "saddened" to hear about the events at Redberry. It is launching a "review," but at the moment Redberry remains a fully accredited member.

In a YouTube video posted by Doerksen earlier this month, Doerksen admits he conducted a "deliverance" on a boy who collapsed and was then convulsing on the floor.

"I've got a room full of boys that are absolutely terrified … they are cowering under their blankets," Doerksen said in the video.

Doerksen said he was successful at casting out multiple demons from the boy. Parents say he handed out business cards so the boys could stay in touch should the demons return.

Submitted by Marci Bond
Submitted by Marci Bond

Marci said the problem is far deeper than just Doerksen. She said Thiessen, board chair Wayne Dick and others are justifying and condoning what happened there, and it can't continue.

Parents say some of the boys continue to suffer from delusions and paranoia.

Parker said he's been talking to his parents and others in the weeks since the exorcism, and now sees he was deceived.

Watch Parker talk about how he feels now: 

Last week, in order to face his fears, he attended another camp near Christopher Lake, and said it was a great experience. He said he's excited about starting his first day of high school Thursday.

Parker said he's speaking out because he doesn't want this to happen to any other kids. He wants police, the camps association, government regulators and anyone associated with Redberry to do their jobs and keep kids safe.

"I'm angry that this happened, and that this was allowed to happen."