Children and Youth Advocate launch investigation into abuse allegations at independent schools

Saskatchewan’s children and youth advocate Dr. Lisa Broda will have her office launch an investigation into abuse allegations at an independent school.

A release from Broda this morning said that the magnitude of the allegations of abuse and the number of concerns raised both publicly and identified in her office’s review of the information gathered over the past few weeks, has informed her decision to conduct a full independent investigation.

Several dozen former students of what is now Legacy Christian School have filed criminal complaints from their experiences at the school.

While Broda’s office can’t investigate criminal matters, she said that she admires the strength and courage of those who have brought these allegations forward in advocating for themselves and children and youth currently served by the education system.

“It is critical that young people are being educated in environments that respect their inherent dignity and their full range of human rights,” said Broda in a media release. “Although there are several processes currently underway examining the issues raised by these allegations from various perspectives, an independent, child-rights lens is required to ensure the education system in Saskatchewan – in all its forms – is operating with the best interests of the child at its centre.”

In an interview, Broda said she found out about the allegations the way many of us did – through the media.

“I wasn’t notified by the ministry prior to that,” she said. “As soon as we became aware, we asked them questions immediately. I called the minister’s office actually to ask them questions and to request information.

The Advocate can make recommendations to the ministry and government agencies.

Caitlin Erickson was one of the first former students to raise concerns, and detail some of the incidents at Legacy Christian Academy in Saskatoon.

“I think it will be good to get another set of eyes on the whole culture around these types of schools,” said Erickson. “And I’m confident the Advocate’s office can provide some insight.”

Erickson said some people are failing to remember that children have a right to education in an abuse-free environment.

“We really hope going forward as the students’ group that we see some huge, huge changes,” Erickson said.

Broda, for her office’s part, said they will leave no stone unturned.

“We ensure we investigate everything,” Broda said. “Sometimes with that, things come up and issues come up that we will pursue, and we will pursue it.”

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