Class action request filed in Quebec against religious order over alleged abuse

MONTREAL - A request has been filed in Quebec Superior Court for a class action against a religious order in connection with alleged sexual assaults on the province's North Shore by a now-deceased priest and other members of the order.

The lawsuit alleges that the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate are directly responsible for the alleged actions of Belgian-born missionary Alexis Joveneau, who spent four decades in small Inuit communities up until his death some 25 years ago.

Lawyer Alain Arsenault told a news conference on Thursday that some 30 alleged victims have come forward from the community of Unamen Shipu, and he believes there may be more in other villages.

Arsenault said the alleged abuse took place against Indigenous and non-Indigenous male and female victims as young as eight or nine years old, and that it occurred over many years.

He said the claim for moral damages could reach $300,000 per victim.

The class action has not yet been authorized and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

The order announced last week that it was devastated by the allegations that have surfaced against its members, and it was opening a 1-800 phone line and an email address to allow any potential victims to come forward.

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