SASKATOON — The opposition NDP have expressed their outrage over reports of abuse at the former Christian Centre Academy, now Legacy Christian Academy, in Saskatoon.
NDP leader Carla Beck and Education Critic Matt Love stood outside the school Wednesday to condemn the stories of abuse that have been reported, and to criticize Education Minister Dustin Duncan for inaction in dealing with the situation.
“When I read the stories of brave former students who came forward, it brings up many emotions,” said Beck.
“I think, first, heartbroken to think that this was the experience that shaped young lives, and angry that these allegations, it appears, were brought to the minister only to be ignored. And it fills me also with resolve to make sure that we get to the bottom of these allegations and to ensure that something like this never happens to any student in Saskatchewan.”
The NDP were reacting to an investigation by CBC News, which reported allegations of abuse from 18 former students of Legacy Christian Academy, formerly known as Christian Centre Academy.
The CBC story outlines allegations of instances of corporal punishment including paddling, coercion, exorcism and solitary confinement, among others. The story also reported the former students have filed criminal abuse complaints to Saskatoon police, who have handed the file over to prosecutors. All the allegations have yet to be proven in a court of law.
The story also reported on an email exchange between a former student with the assistant for Education Minister Dustin Duncan, in which the minister’s office was made aware of the allegations.
The NDP opposition particularly pointed to a statement from the Ministry of Education that was provided to CBC News, in which they stated they had "not received any complaints regarding LCA since funding for Qualified Independent Schools (QIS) began in 2012."
“Frankly, it leads the question - how do you receive these allegations and not have curiosity to get to the bottom of it?” Beck said to reporters Wednesday.
Education Critic Love described the allegations as “sickening" and "chilling,” and said it was "upsetting to hear these stories." He blasted Duncan for inaction.
“Unfortunately, the response we’ve seen from this education minister tracks with his record since assuming his role as minister of education” said Love, who accused the minister of a “pattern of dishonesty.”
Love said what was most shocking was the minister “not only didn’t act when he was made aware, but he actually went ahead and increased funding to these types of schools when he signed off on school budgets this June that had pretty significant increases for Qualified Independent Schools in Saskatchewan.”
Love called on those individuals involved in the alleged abuse, including those who paddled, exorcised or used solitary confinement with children and youth, to be “immediately removed from their positions in any school where they’re employed today.”
He also called for an immediate investigation of how the allegations were handled by Duncan and the Ministry of Education, and for a freeze in funding of this school while an investigation is being conducted. He also wanted to see a bolstering of oversight for Qualified Independent Schools.
“The stories brought forward show that the inspections and investigations that have been taking place were not adequate enough to catch these stories of abuse that obviously existed within the community for years and even decades.”