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Church of Canada vows to address youth suicide crisis in Wapekeka First Nation

Posted on: January 24, 2017 9:37 AM
Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, says that the trauma former priest Ralph Rowe was responsible for still echoes in Indigenous communities.
Photo Credit: Art Babych / Anglican Journal
Related Categories: abuse, Canada, indigenous, youth

[Anglican Journal, by André Forget] The Anglican Church of Canada has acknowledged that it played a role in creating the conditions that led to the suicides of two young girls in Wapekeka First Nation, a remote Oji-Cree community in Ontario, earlier this month. In a statement on Friday (20 January), Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary, said the church “helped create a legacy of brokenness in some First Nations communities” through the actions of one of its former priests, Ralph Rowe, who abused many Indigenous boys in communities across Northwestern Ontario throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

The statement came in response to comments made by Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation during a press conference the day before (19 January) following the deaths by suicide of 12-year-olds Jolynn Winter and Chantel Fox in early January.

Fiddler said the suicides, like a number of previous suicides, were linked to intergenerational trauma caused by Rowe’s predation, which has had a profound impact on the community.

  • Read André Forget’s full in-depth article on the Anglican Journal website.