'We need your help': Head of Nunavut Tunngavik implores France to extradite ex-priest

·2 min read
Kilikvak Kabloona, CEO of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Aluki Kotierk, Nunavut Tunngavik's president, Jesse Tungilik, Tanya Tungilik and Steve Mapsalak spoke to media in Paris on Monday morning about the extradition of Johannes Rivoire.  (Juanita Taylor/CBC - image credit)
Kilikvak Kabloona, CEO of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Aluki Kotierk, Nunavut Tunngavik's president, Jesse Tungilik, Tanya Tungilik and Steve Mapsalak spoke to media in Paris on Monday morning about the extradition of Johannes Rivoire. (Juanita Taylor/CBC - image credit)

Inuit delegates say they are meeting with the French justice ministry this week to discuss the extradition of an ex-priest accused of sexually abusing children in Nunavut.

The delegation from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. is in Paris this week with the goal of pressuring the French government to return former priest Johannes Rivoire to Canada to face charges of sexual abuse.

"We need your help," said Aluki Kotierk, Nunavut Tunngavik's president, in an appeal to the French public on Monday morning.

"[We] have travelled more than 4,400 kilometres from Canada, over three days, to appeal to you to help us in getting Johannes Rivoire extradited to Canada so he can face his criminal charges in a court of justice."

Rivoire worked in many Nunavut communities in the 1960s and 1970s, but returned to France in the early 1990s before he could be tried on abuse charges. While some charges against him were stayed in 2017, the RCMP confirmed in March that more charges have been laid.

In an interview with APTN in July, Rivoire denied all charges.

"I have been given two reasons for Rivoire's continued freedom: first, he is French; second, he is old. This is outrageous," Kotierk said. He is also Canadian, she argued, and France has tried people his age in the past.

Juanita Taylor/CBC
Juanita Taylor/CBC

Jesse Tungilik, one of the delegates, is the son of Marius Tungilik. Marius, who died in 2012, had alleged Rivoire sexually abused him in Naujaat.

"What we want is not an unreasonable thing. What we want is what anybody in our position would want," Jesse Tungilik said Monday.

"We want justice for terrible crimes that were committed against our father and many others."

Delegates have been in "consistent communication" with the Canadian government, Kotierk noted, and have requested a meeting with Rivoire as well, though they have yet to hear back on that.

Dan Vandal, Canada's northern affairs minister, described the allegations against Rivoire as "incredibly serious" and said the government supports Nunavut Tunngavik's endeavours.

David Lametti, Canada's justice minister, declined to comment on the extradition request, though he acknowledged that the request had been made.

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