Nunavut court approves teacher sexual abuse class action against governments - InfoNews

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Nunavut court approves teacher sexual abuse class action against governments

Small boats make their way through the Frobisher Bay inlet in Iqaluit on Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. A Nunavut court has approved a class action lawsuit against the federal government and two territories over the sex abuse of Inuit children by a teacher. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
June 19, 2020 - 11:46 AM

IQALUIT, Nunavut - A Nunavut court has approved a class-action lawsuit against the federal government and two territories over the sexual abuse of Inuit children by a teacher.

In his ruling, Justice Paul Bychok found it is at least arguable that Ottawa ignored its duty to the children. The commissioners of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories — territorial officials similar to provincial lieutenant-governors — are also named in the suit.

"The authorities placed (Maurice) Cloughley in a position of real authority and power over his young Inuit charges," Bychok wrote in Monday's judgement.

"These Inuit children were extremely vulnerable by the very essence and structure of this student-teacher relationship."

Cloughley served a 10-year sentence after pleading guilty to nine charges of abusing school children in several Arctic communities between 1967 and 1981. He originally faced 22 charges.

The current lawsuit is being brought by three of his former pupils on behalf of them all.

Bychok noted that Cloughley came to the North just after Inuit people had been moved into new communities.

"Authorities undertook to and did establish and maintain localized health care, housing, schools and law and order in these newly created settlements. Government exercised colonial power over the Inuit and enforced it, in part, by armed authority," he said.

"Cloughley abused his authority and power over these children."

Bychok ordered notice of the lawsuit be posted in homeless shelters in Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton in case some of his former students are in those communities.

The judge said that given the ongoing vulnerability of Inuit youth in remote communities, certifying the class action could have an educational benefit.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2020

— By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow him on Twitter at @row1960

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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