Day school survivor addresses priests, bishops about his abuse

Jeffrey Papatie talks about his time in day school to ‘free himself.’

Jeffrey Papatie does a lot of talking – especially about the abuse he suffered while going to a day school in Lac Simon, Quebec.

“It took courage to come here. Because I walked around with so much hatred,” he told an audience of priests, bishops and other members of the Catholic Church.

They’re in Trois-Riviere, east of Montreal, at a gathering organized by a group called Our Mission. The goal was to reflect on the future of pastoral presence in Indigenous communities. Both catholic Indigenous and non-Indigenous people were in attendance.

Papatie, from the Anishinaabe community of Lac Simon, said he attended the day school for about six years starting at age eight.

He said he’s been sober for more than 16 years and that speaking his truth in the basement of a Church was another step on his healing journey.

A moment so important, he said, he brought his young son and partner along.

“From the age of thirteen I was subjected to things that weren’t right by a false priest,” he said.

He told the gathering that after he’d been abused by a priest, he lived his life in shame and fear.

“I am here to free myself even more from the things inside me,” he said. “Because there are things that I’ve kept silent for far too long, for 38 years. It’s been three years since I’ve managed to talk about things that go back even further in my childhood, since I was 13. I thinking of my wellbeing and to continue to take care of myself on my journey.”

Marilyne Roy, coordinator at the Notre-Dame-de-Fatima Catholic mission in Kuujjuaq, said Papatie’s words touched her deeply.

“For me, it’s a question that’s been on my mind for a long time, and in a particular way for the last seven years,” she said. “It’s an issue that I’ve dealt with on a daily basis. I would say that, as a non-Indigenous person, I find that there is a path towards reconciliation.”

Bishop Emeritus Gilles Lemay from Trois-Riviere didn’t have much to say about Papatie’s presentation.

“The need for reconciliation is real,” he said. “I won’t expand on that too much.”

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