Trigger warning: This statement shares disturbing information.
“Our children are sacred.” -Grand Chief Jerry Daniels
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 30, 2023
ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is devastated to learn of the alleged sexual assault of an eight-year-old child from Little Grand Rapids.
“On behalf of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, I extend our sympathies and prayers to the child, the family, and the entire Nation of Little Grand Rapids as they learn of the predatory behaviour of a Catholic priest who has been working in the community,” shared SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels.
“I stand with the child who has been harmed. I commend this young girl for her bravery in sharing what happened to her. I extend prayers that this child will receive the loving support she needs as she works to heal,” stated Grand Chief Daniels. “I also encourage any other children, youth, or adults who have been harmed by this priest or any others to come forward to share your truths. Let us remember that all children are sacred. It is essential we build a safer society for First Nations children.”
“Children are the center of our Nations. They are sacred and deserve to be nurtured and protected. First Nations have sadly experienced predatory behaviour for generations when it comes to the churches,” continued Grand Chief Daniels. “The leaders of the Catholic church have much work to do in repairing relationships with our Nations. While they promised $25 million in compensation to First Nations people for healing initiatives as part of Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, this legal commitment remains unfulfilled. When will the Catholic church properly atone for its sins?”
Arul Savari is the name of the priest who is now in custody. The priest also worked in Pauingassi First Nation and lived in Winnipeg. The RCMP believe there may be other victims.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Little Grand Rapids RCMP at 204-397-2249.
For anyone who requires immediate emotional support, please call the Hope for Wellness Helpline, which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 1-855-242-3310 for support. You can also chat with someone online by visiting: https://www.hopeforwellness.ca/
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 83,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.
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