#Furlong. The Path to Truth and Reconciliation

Yesterday, I received this powerful letter from Kenneth Young, a lawyer and a residential school survivor. The letter is filled with grace and simple truths.

Joan, it is a sad when people of influence who have done wrong fail to accept responsibility for the harm their wrongful actions have caused.

John Furlong must know in his mind that he did a lot of harm to young people he was entrusted to provide guidance. He will face further scrutiny in the coming months as the class action on day schools is worked on as to how it will be settled. If it will result in an agreement like the Indian Residential School Settlement with an adjudication process, I am sure the students he now stands accused of abusing will most certainly be claimants in which he will be most surely a person of interest.

My advice to Mr. Furlong is he reach out and call for a healing circle in which he will face his accusers and deal with the hurt and harm he has caused them, now to himself and those people who are most close to him.

If he chooses this path I believe his journey back to respectability will be one where he will be received by most people with open arms. It will be a journey, when taken with the right steps and attitude, that will bring true healing and reconciliation for himself and those he has harmed. Through this acceptance of what he did to those young innocent people was wrong John Furlong, I am confident, will learn the magnificence of the patience and kindness of First Nations people.

In saying this, I as a survivor of 10 years of Indian Residential School life, have been able to forgive the church and state for this very dark chapter in my life. It was not easy but the church and state reached out and this has helped me to carry on with my healing journey which will, I have now accepted will be a lifelong inner process. Mr. Furlong can do no less if wants to reinvigorate his life.

Historic Sexual Abuse—Corroboration not needed

The Supreme Court of Canada has said that, notwithstanding the absence of corroboration in a case involving historic abuse, a finding of credibility is still possible: http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/6211/index.do

In that case, the plaintiff FH had been a resident from 1966 to 1974 of the Sechelt Indian Residential School, an institution operated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Though FH claimed to have been sexually assaulted by M, an Oblate Brother, when he was 10, he told no-one about it until 2000, when he confided in his wife.

Despite inconsistencies in his testimony as to the frequency and gravity of the sexual assaults, the trial judge found him to be credible, concluding that he had been anally raped by M on four occasions during the 1968‑69 school year….

A majority of the Court of Appeal overturned that decision on the grounds that the trial judge had failed to consider the serious inconsistencies in FH’s testimony in determining whether the alleged sexual assaults had been proven to the standard of proof that was “commensurate with the allegation….”

In allowing the appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada said, among other things, that, in serious cases such as this one—where there is little other evidence than that of the plaintiff and the defendant, and the alleged events took place long ago—the judge is required to make a decision.

Sexual assault victims need not provide independent corroborating evidence. Such evidence may not be available, especially where the alleged incidents took place decades earlier. Also, incidents of sexual assault normally occur in private. Hence, trial judges may be required to make a decision on the basis of whether they believe the plaintiff or the defendant. As difficult as that may be, they must assess the evidence and make their determination without imposing a legal requirement for corroboration.