Former students of Sask. Christian School call on Education Ministry for the school’s shut down and defunding

Former students are calling for the closure and defunding of a private Saskatoon Christian School that is facing dozens of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse allegations.

Caitlin Erikson, Stephanie Hutchinson, and Coy Nolin who are former students of Christian Centre Academy now known as Legacy Christian Academy, who have put forward allegations, as well as their lawyer in the case, Grant Scharfstein, all had a private meeting with Education Minister Dustin Duncan and his staff on Wednesday.

The meeting was in regard to the numerous allegations against dozens of staff members who formerly and currently work at Legacy Christian Academy and their adjacent church, Mile Two Church; which used to be known as Christian Centre Church.

Right now, there is a $25 million lawsuit being filed against the accused staff members. The lawsuit is not only against the abuse claims but also cover-up claims.

In the meeting with Duncan, Erikson says that they talked about their own experiences while attending the school and they gave him more information on more current issues with the school.

She says they also talked with him about some current staff that work there.

“Some of the individuals that are still actively teaching at the school, were there when we attended; these are individuals that definitely facilitated for kids to be abused or they sat back and literally said nothing,” says Erikson, stating that these staff members have been there for up to 20 years and have witnessed many things.

While bringing their points to Duncan’s attention they also called for the school to be shut down.

Erikson states that four decades of abuse allegations should be enough to close it’s doors.

If the school won’t be shut down, Erikson as well as the other former students in the meeting feel that the school should at least be defunded from the $700,000 it’s receiving in annual taxpayer funds.

“That would be the logical solution to this whole issue,” says Erikson.

She adds that there’s several times where the school hasn’t followed the regulations in order to get public funding and that giving the school the funding could be thought as enabling abusers.

In the meeting, Erikson shares that Duncan wasn’t very responsive.

“He did a lot of listening. We do appreciate that he met with us, but we didn’t leave the meeting with anything more than we had before,” says Erikson.

She shared that her former classmate, Coy Nolin, asked Duncan, “What is the number of abuse victims that would suffice for you to close this school… what’s the magic number.”

Her other former classmate in attendance, Stephanie Hutchinson, also asked Duncan to clarify statements he made saying that the ministry balances human rights with religious freedom but he was reluctant to answer any questions.

While Erikson, Nolin, and Hutchinson wish he could have provided more concrete answers and reassurance that he is looking into this, Erikson states that the meeting should have also happened long before it did.

“Before the news story had even broke, I had reached out to his office and said, ‘hey there’s an article coming out, before you comment on it did you want to meet with the students’ and I got no response from the office,” says Erikson.

Erikson also believes that the story is much bigger than what it is right now, and it needs to be addressed.

“Our school isn’t the only issue. There are lots of QIS schools (Qualified Independent Schools) in the province with students that have reached out to me, and I think those stories are going to be coming out down the road so there needs to be more done,” she says.

She thinks that the only solution may be tearing down the system and completely rebuilding it.

Going forward, the council of people who made the allegations are in a waiting game with the Crown to finish the review of their files.

Currently all the lawsuit papers have been served on all defendants except Keith Johnson. Who was the Pastor at the school and the church as well as the author of the child training manual that was given to teachers and parents at the school. The manual reportedly encouraged strict and harsh disciplinary punishments for children. He’s reportedly been evading officials who have been trying to serve him the lawsuit documents.

Non of the defendants have issued any statements of defense.

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