Settlements end $100M class action lawsuit by alleged Manitoulin Island abuse survivors
A $100 million class action lawsuit launched on behalf of alleged victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy on Manitoulin Island has been abandoned after the victims reached individual settlements with the church.
All of the 29 alleged victims are from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory and attended Holy Cross Mission, run by the Jesuit Fathers of Upper Canada.
The suit was launched in 2015 and named several defendants, including the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie, the Estate of Father George Epoch and the Estate of Brother O’Meare.
"The action was brought on behalf of all persons who were abused as children by clergy or staff of the Holy Cross Mission in Wiikwemkoong (and) all parents, spouses, children and siblings of the abused persons," court documents said.
Two alleged victims – one of Father George Epoch and the other of Brother O’Meare – filed the suit and were joined by others.
O’Meare committed the sex abuse when he worked in Wiikwemkoong between 1950 and 1960, while Epoch’s crimes took place when he worked there from 1959 to 1963, 1969 to 1971 and 1983 to 1986 the suit alleges.
A third member of the clergy – a "Brother Hinton" – was also named as someone who abused children from 1963 until 1970. His whereabouts – and whether he is still alive – is unknown, the court documents said.
Four years after the class action was launched, officials approached lawyers for the Jesuits.
"Chief Duke Peltier and senior policy analyst Sandra Wabegijig of the Wiikwemkoong Unceded First Nation approached the counsel for the Jesuit Fathers of Upper Canada and asked that the legal process be resolved by an informal process," the court documents said.
The goal was to find a process that would still be fair but wouldn’t "re-traumatize" the alleged victims.
"Discussions followed with the Merchant Law Group with the leaders of the Wiikwemkoong community, and a consensus emerged that there should be a more informal process," the transcript said.
"It was agreed that compensation would be negotiated in accordance with the awards made in the federal Day School Settlement, which was a class action similar to the Indian Residential Schools Class Action."
All 29 people have since settled their claims, but "the terms of the individual settlements were not disclosed to this court," the transcript said.
"The counsel fee or costs awards were not disclosed to this court."
- Download our app to get local alerts on your device
- Get the latest local updates sent right to your inbox
However, the class action suit was still technically ongoing and lawyers for the alleged victims had to get court approval to end it.
In his ruling, the judge in the case said it was frustrating not to know the details of the individual settlements. That information would help him ensure the alleged victims are not giving up any rights by ending the class action suit.
"It may be that the negotiated settlements and the fees are reasonable and in the best interests of the putative class members who settled, but I cannot conclude that based on the information proffered on this discontinuance motion," he wrote.
However, considering none of the plaintiffs in the case are pursuing legal action at this point, the judge ruled it would be "futile."
"There are no representative plaintiffs willing to represent the putative class members who have not settled, and, in any event, the defendants could have the proposed class action mandatorily dismissed for delay," the judge wrote.
In agreeing to discontinue the suit, the judge said that all members of the lawsuit should be sent a copy of his ruling. If they have questions, they should get independent legal advice.
Read the full decision here.
Resources for sexual assault survivors in Canada
If you or someone you know is struggling with sexual assault or trauma, the following resources are available to support people in crisis:
If you are in immediate danger or fear for your safety, you should call 911.
A full list of sexual assault centres in Canada that offer information, advocacy and counselling can be found at ReeseCommunity.com. Resources in your community can be found by entering your postal code.
Helplines, legal services and locations that offer sexual assault kits in Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia can be found here.
National Residential School Crisis Line: +1 866 925 4419
24-hour crisis line: 416 597 8808
Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: +1 833 900 1010
Trans Lifeline: +1 877 330 6366
Sexual misconduct support for current or former members of the Armed Forces: +1 844 750 1648
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
EXCLUSIVE 'A shock and an embarrassment': Canada's governor general on Parliament's recognition of Nazi veteran
Canada's Gov. Gen. Mary Simon says Parliament's recognition of a man who fought for a Nazi unit during the Second World War was 'a shock and an embarrassment,' and she's considering personally reaching out to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
A Regina King's Bench judge has issued an injunction, effectively pressing pause on Saskatchewan's new school pronoun policy.
A Canadian class-action lawsuit alleges the effectiveness of Cold-FX products was falsely advertised, and seeks compensation for anyone who bought the products.
A Phillies fan and his emotional support animal, an alligator named WallyGator, were denied entrance to watch Philadelphia host Pittsburgh.
Canada has provided $2.5 million in humanitarian aid for the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh region as Azerbaijan reclaims control over the breakaway region.
A winning lottery ticket always comes with some sort of prize, but this month it was revealed that not only had the Lotto 6/49 jackpot reached $68 million for the first time in history, but that it was guaranteed to go to the next winning ticket. Here’s how that happened.
Officials were called to the southern California home of Britney Spears on Wednesday to conduct a wellness check after the singer posted a video on social media depicting her dancing with knives.
'In need of a critical rethink': Senate committee studying Canada's temporary foreign worker program
A Senate committee is studying Canada's temporary foreign workers program, which sees the country welcome thousands of workers from other countries over a period of time, filling key labour gaps.
Looking for baby name inspiration? A recent list of the top 20 baby names in 2022 may help with your search.
Police in Barrie continue to canvas a west-end neighbourhood, searching for answers after a vehicle explosion at an Anne Street apartment complex Wednesday morning.
A Barrie teen convicted of murdering a 15-year-old boy in a foster home four years ago will remain in custody after a judge confirmed he wouldn't be released at a sentencing review hearing.
Officials say a dishwasher caused a fire that significantly damaged the kitchen of a Huntsville home.
Police have released new video footage that shows a group of suspects gaining access to several York Region homes in an apparent attempt to find key fobs for vehicles parked outside.
The location where a historic lottery ticket was sold was revealed Thursday morning.
Eddie’s Network, a Toronto-based advocacy group for lost dogs in the GTA, is warning of a spike in vandalized and removed posters for missing pets.
Nanos Research says the online survey found 81 per cent of non-active users want Queen Elizabeth Driveway open for driving year-round, while 78 per cent of respondents identified as active-users want the QED closed to vehicles seven days a week year-round, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Taxi passengers are now paying an extra $5.56 for pickup at the Ottawa International Airport, as taxi drivers pass on an airport-related fee to customers.
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at events happening in Ottawa on Friday and Saturday to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Waterloo regional police have named a suspect in the murder of 18-year-old Joshua Tarnue and arrested another person in connection to the shooting.
The Kitchener Stray Cat Rescue is searching for a new home after finding out the building they are currently in is being turned into a high-rise apartment.
Waterloo regional police say a fatal shooting in Kitchener on Wednesday is now being investigated as a homicide.
Kristin Bailey says her neighbourhood dog park has become dangerous. While at a dog park in Woodstock, Ont. Monday, she said she was attacked by a man who lives in a nearby homeless encampment.
It has been 40 years since London, Ont. was shocked by the murder of a 17-year-old girl. Decades later, what happened to Donna Jean Awcock remains a mystery and a source of heartache for her family.
As Windsor-Essex and cities across the country deal with an affordable housing crisis, one rental listing in Windsor is catching the eye and ire of one city councillor.
The City of Windsor is searching for a new live-in heritage custodian and maintenance attendant at Willistead Manor.
Swedish manufacturer Northvolt says it will build a $7 billion gigafactory for electric vehicle batteries near Montreal that it claims will represent the largest private investment in Quebec's history.
The man arrested in connection with the deaths of two women in Longueuil was charged with two counts of second-degree murder on Thursday.
Quebec announced Thursday that a new vaccination campaign for the seasonal flu and COVID-19 will be rolled out on Oct. 2 for vulnerable people.
Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador are attempting to pilfer each other's health-care workers.
Nova Scotia's government is launching a review of its freedom of information legislation after years of criticism that the current system results in blacked-out government documents and a toothless review process.
Maritimers will be able to view a full harvest moon rising in the night sky on Thursday, with this being the last supermoon of 2023.
The Winnipeg Police Service’s homicide unit is investigating after a woman was found dead in the Daniel McIntyre neighbourhood Thursday morning.
Manitoba New Democrats are promising a balanced budget, more money for health care, and an inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic if they win Tuesday's provincial election.
A 21-year-old Winnipeg man has been arrested after he allegedly committed an indecent act outside of a Winnipeg elementary school.
Police have charged a man with attempted murder and more following a shooting outside Calgary International Airport on Wednesday.
Hockey scouts were out in full force on Wednesday at the Max Bell Centre, taking in day one of the AJHL showcase.
Tweet announcing trade of NBA superstar Damian Lillard to Milwaukee uses Calgary skyline as stand in
Calgary stood in for Metropolis in a couple of Superman flicks in the late 70s. It stood in for the end of the world in HBO's The Last of Us.
University of Alberta closes endowment fund named after Nazi veteran recognized in the House of Commons
The University of Alberta is apologizing for having an endowment fund provided by Yaroslav Hunka, the Nazi veteran recognized in Parliament last week.
An Edmonton man won $50 million in a lottery draw earlier this month.
Albertans eligible to be immunized will be able to book their annual vaccines against fall respiratory viruses following next month's Thanksgiving long weekend, Alberta's health ministry announced on Thursday.
B.C.'s public vaccination campaign for the fall respiratory illness season will begin Oct. 10, health officials announced Thursday.
A limited masking requirement will return to B.C. hospitals and other health-care settings next week as the province braces for a seasonal spike in COVID-19, influenza and RSV cases, but officials say there are currently no plans for mandatory masking in schools.
Police in Surrey say they have launched an investigation after a man suffering from a gunshot wound was dropped off at a local hospital Wednesday morning.