MPP saddened by horrific, traumatic testimonies of former priest, scoutmaster's victims

KIIWETINOONG — Horrific and traumatic were the words used by NDP MPP Sol Mamakwa to describe a meeting he sat in on with some of the victims who detailed historic sexual abuse from Ralph Rowe, a former Anglican priest and scoutmaster.

The meeting included representatives of the Anglican Church of Canada.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Rowe worked in First Nations across Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba. Authorities believe he abused up to 500 children.

With the blessing of the victims who attended the meetings in Toronto, Mamakwa released a statement this week condemning the actions of the involved individuals, especially those of Rowe, who was convicted of numerous charges throughout the last 30 years for the abuse.

“The impact of one man has caused immense damage, affecting survivors and their families for generations. These children should have been safe, but instead, they were targeted and subjected to unimaginable trauma. One of the survivors stated, ‘I don’t want to die with the pain caused to me by Ralph Rowe, and I don’t want to have anyone else live with this pain.’"

Mamakwa spoke with Dougall Media and described the emotions around the table as "very heavy."

"It was very heavy, for sure. Very emotional and heartfelt. There's so many emotions," said Mamakwa.

Originally from Fort Severn, 58-year-old Stephen Stoney was a victim of abuse from Rowe between the ages of six to nine years old.

Stoney was involved in a previous lawsuit against the Anglican Church of Canada and spoke to Dougall Media regarding the meeting.

"That [abuse] is still ongoing. It has affected our children who are now adults, our families, our relationships with our parents as we grew up. It also affected those around us and how some of us have come to seek help and found healing and in individual healing.

"They listened, and they agreed to do what they can to issue a meaningful apology, and to work at and to listen to what they can do to address this whole issue. "

While the church representatives acknowledged the need for change and action, Stoney said no specific examples or actions were detailed.

This trauma affected Stoney's life, led to addiction issues, and impacted his ability to care for his family and retain meaningful employment until he made his own changes.

"I would say by the mercy of the grace of God that I had a spiritual awakening that this thing did a number on me and I was very discouraged, depressed and I couldn't find myself a way out of this. It was destroying me," he said.

"All I know is I needed help in the end. . . Somehow God intervened in my life and from there with step one, I acknowledged my need and I've been on my journey 25 years ago to this day. I'm still working on this healing journey.

"I'm no longer afraid to speak out about this whole issue."

The most recent settlement was reached in October 2023.

Katie Nicholls, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,