Category: Uncategorized

Residential School Survivors Concerned Their Private Abuse may become Public

by John McKiggan

One of the transformative experiences of my legal career has been representing Nora Bernard and the other survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. Ii has been an honour to represent Nora (RIP) and more than 600 former residents of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Nova Scotia for the past 18 years.

Nora Bernard filed the first class action against Canada seeking compensation for all former residents of a residential school.

Nora and the Shubenacadie survivors eventually joined other survivors from other schools in other provinces who worked together to create the National Indian Residential Schools Class Action Settlement. At the time it was the largest class action settlement in Canadian history and I believe to date it is still the largest historical redress settlement in the world.

Halifax Soccer Coach Convicted of Sexual Assault Shows Need for Oversight by Sporting Organizations

by John McKiggan

The Chronicle Herald reported yesterday that Konstanty Bedoa-Gorski a director and coach of a Halifax based program for high performance teen soccer players was sentenced to two years in prison for sexually assaulting one of his players, a 14 year old girl.

Family ripped apart

Judge Michael Sherar said Bedoa-Gorski took advantage of a dedicated player who was hungry for extra training and groomed her for sexual satisfaction. Judge Sherar said that Bedoa-Gorski’s actions had “ripped apart” the victim’s family.

Employers Knowledge of Sexual Abuse may be a Double Edged Sword: Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Saint John’s v. Guardian Insurance

by John McKiggan

Today the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal from a decision of the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal: Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Saint John’s v. Guardian Insurance

The case is interesting to those of us who represent survivors of childhood of sexual abuse because it illustrates the challenges in recovering compensation for survivors.

In many cases the abuser has little or no assets or is dead. Often a survivor’s only hope of receiving some measure of compensation for their injuries is by pursuing the institution that employed the abuser.

Will a Public Database of Pedophiles Protect Children? The answer may surprise you.

by John McKiggan

The federal government recently introduced legislation to create a public database of child sex offenders.

The bill increases the sentences for child sex crimes and requires sex offenders to provide information when they travel and also facilitates information sharing between various law enforcement agencies.

As an advocate for survivors of childhood abuse I support legislation increasing the penalties for child sex offences.

Catholic Archbishop in Alberta, NWT Apologizes for Residential School Abuse: Irony Abounds

by John McKiggan

CTV News has reported that Archbishop Richard Smith of the Archdiocese of Edmonton has issued a formal apology for the Catholic Church’s role in running the Indian Residential Schools.

Smith said:

“…we the Catholic Bishops of Alberta and Northwest Territories apologize to those who experienced sexual and physical abuse in residential schools under Catholic administration.”

Saint John – Estabrooks Class Action filed

by John McKiggan

I have been retained by Robert Hayes to file a proposed class action against the City of Saint John, the Saint John Police Department and the Saint John Police Commission.

For more than 30 years Kenneth Estabrooks preyed on children and youth in Saint John. Persons in authority turned a blind eye, or worse, covered up his sexual activities.

Estabrooks has destroyed hundreds of lives. Tragically some did not survive. Many of his victims have never been able to achieve their full potential because of the harm caused by his abuse. The ripple effects of his assaults have touched spouses, children and other family members of his victims.

Estabrooks Sexual Abuse Survivors Plan Class Action Against City of Saint John

by John McKiggan

When I was little, one of the first things my parents taught me was that there are some people you can trust when you need help; your parents, your teachers, and above all, the police. This message was reinforced by our schools and public safety announcements on television.

Unfortunately, for dozens of kids who grew up in the poor south end of Saint John, the local police officer was the last person in the world you could trust.

Predator policeman

Sexual Assaults in the Military: The Armed Forces dirty secret

by John McKiggan

Can sexual assault or rape ever just be incidental to a job? Is it conceivable that someone can sign up for a job where a high risk of sexual assault would be considered somewhat normal? According to the American Military sexual assault is, essentially, just part of the job.

The astonishing statement is part of a response to a lawsuit filed by American soldiers against the Pentagon alleging sexual assault and harrassment by other members of the Armed Forces.

According to Neil MacDonald at the CBC there is a severe lack of accountability within the American military. Last year almost 3,500 people formally complained of sexual assault in the U.S. military. The Pentagon admits that only 238 of these complaints resulted in convictions. The remaining complaints were either dismissed or resulted in minor administrative punishments.

Brown v. Canada: Court Puts Brakes on Aboriginal Class Action

by John McKiggan

For close to twenty years I have had the privilege of representing Nora Bernard and the survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. I was a member of the steering committee that negotiated the landmark National Indian Residential Schools Class Action settlement and I have had the great honour of helping hundreds of former residential school students in the claims process.

The Residential Schools Class action was the largest class action settlement in Canada, effecting nearly 70,000 aboriginal people across Canada. but even that massive court case hasn’t addressed all of the harms that aboriginal people have suffered as a result of actions of various federal and provincial government actions.

So I have followed with great interest the various claims that have been filed on behalf of aboriginal people across Canada based on issues similar to the loss of language and culture arguments that we pursued in the National Residential School claims.

  • badges