POWERVIEW, Man. –
A Manitoba woman travelled three hours hoping to hear and see the retired priest charged with sexually abusing her at a residential school in the late 1960s appear in a small town courtroom.
“I’m going to be here every step of the way,” said Victoria McIntosh, 63 of Somerset, Man. outside the Legion Hall in Powerview-Pine Falls, Man. Wednesday which serves as the courthouse in the community. “I didn’t deserve that at 10 years old. No child does.”
McIntosh clutched a jacket her grandmother gave her on her first day of school and showed up to the court with her husband and grandson at her side.
Other supporters, including community members from the nearby Sagkeeng First Nation, gathered outside the building for a short ceremony and drumming before the court hearing began.
About 30 people filled the hall, with most in attendance to observe the court case against Arthur Masse, 92, who was charged by Manitoba RCMP in June with one count of indecent assault.
The charge stems from an allegation of sexual abuse of a 10-year-old girl who was a student at Fort Alexander Residential School in Sagkeeng First Nation between 1968 and 1970 after a 10-year police investigation.
None of the allegations against Masse have been tested in court and he is presumed innocent.
McIntosh said she’s the one who was assaulted and has come forward because she wants to speak publicly about what happened.
“Something bad, very bad happened here in Canada and let’s learn from this so that it’ll never happen again,” McIntosh said outside court.
Masse, who was arrested at his home in Winnipeg last month and released on conditions, wasn’t required to make a first appearance in court because his lawyer called in on his behalf which the Crown told the court is “the norm in these types of situations.”
The short hearing lasted about five minutes before the court took a recess to let observers leave the hall.
The case has been put over to Aug. 17 in Powerview-Pine Falls to give Masse’s lawyer time to receive disclosure from the Crown.
McIntosh isn’t surprised but she feels Masse could’ve made it to court if he wanted to.
“That’s just how I feel right now but in time if I have that chance to talk with him I would like to hear what he has to say,” she said. “I can forgive one day. Just not right now.”
The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program has a hotline to help residential school survivors and their relatives suffering from trauma invoked by the recall of past abuse. The number is 1-866-925-4419.
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