President Chartier Attends SNAP Conference in Chicago

SNAP stands for the “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” and is an advocacy group which works to ensure that transgressions against children and adults sexually abused by priests, brothers, deacons, sisters, etc are brought to light and that Bishops no longer just transfer perpetrators to another posting.

SNAP came to President Chartier’s attention from a news article in the Globe and Mail on July 8, 2014 which reported on the meeting the day before of six formerly abused victims (2 each from Ireland, Britain and Germany) with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

As part of the story, SNAP was quoted as stating that these “meetings are public relations coups for the Vatican” and that “[T]hey provide temporary but false hope”.  This caught President Chartier’s attention and later that day through information from the internet was able to contact one of the directors of the SNAP office and upon explaining the situation of the Métis in Canada with respect to the exclusion from the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the Prime Minister’s apology and the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission it was suggested that attending the up-coming conference might be helpful.

While the issues facing the Métis are different than the ones being dealt with by SNAP, although similar on an individual basis of sexual abuse suffered by many Métis, the conference nevertheless was informative and presented the opportunity of making allies on the political/moral support side.

Of particular interest is the action taken by SNAP over the past year where they lodged a complaint against the Holy See (Vatican) in two committees of the United Nations in Geneva:  The Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment.  After the presentation of their complaint and supporting evidence through written presentations and witnesses, and after hearing the response of the Holy See, the two committees demanded more action by church officials and directed the Holy See to report back in five years to provide information on what they have done to address the abuses and actions or inactions that they have been accused of.

While such decisions are not legally binding or enforceable, they certainly have significant political and moral authority and will be helpful in moving the Vatican to deal more seriously and effectively with this longstanding and institutionalized victimization of the vulnerable by church clerics.

The use of international venues by the Métis Nation such as various United Nations human rights committees, as well as those of the Organization of American States, can also prove to be useful in our quest to get similar treatment and reconciliation as those Aboriginal peoples whom Canada has thus far been willing to deal with.  Perhaps an action could also be taken to the Inter-American Court of Justice in Costa Rica which would likely have more weight than would the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

In any event, there are various ways that the marginalization of the Métis can be addressed, both within Canada and in the international community.

President Chartier and Barbara Blaine, Founder and President of SNAP

Workshop sign: UN Committee Recommendations

Jeff Anderson, lawyer who represented many victims

news headlines from UN Committee Reports

Pam Spees, Lawyer from Centre for Constitutional Rights (NYC) which represented SNAP at UN

Barbara Blaine: a young abuse victim

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