Overarching Question: As citizens, to what extent can we help bring about the changes needed to better support the social and legal recognition of the victims and survivors of sexual violence?
Summary: Lawyer Robert Talach and Professor Marie-Andrée Pelland are unequivocal that much remains to be done on the social, legal and political fronts to prevent child sexual abuse in institutional contexts and to support the victims and survivors, both in New Brunswick and the rest of Canada. Enhanced victims’ rights, independent investigations and commissions of inquiry have elucidated the harm inflicted upon victims and highlighted the tacit role played by religious institutions in hushing things up and protecting the offenders. Indeed, Canada was a forerunner in 1989 when the government created two commissions of inquiry (the Winter Commission and the Hughes Commission) to look into the allegations of physical and sexual abuse by Christian Brothers against boys living at the Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s (Newfoundland and Labrador). However, little by way of social and legal action has since been undertaken to understand how the abuse has affected the lives of survivors in the Atlantic provinces.