Razing of building a symbol of healing

Published December 2, 2005

The demolition on Nov. 9 of a derelict building at the North Caribou Lake First Nation in northern Ontario was a symbol of healing for those who say they were sexually abused by former Anglican priest Ralph Rowe.”The building has been standing here for years, and once it’s gone, our healing journey will begin,” Harry Kenequanash, a member of the Ralph Rowe Survivor Network, told the Canadian Press. Mr. Rowe is 66 and now lives in Surrey, B.C. The Old Anglican Mission House near St. Peter’s church at Weagamow Lake was at least 50 years old and was used for clergy accommodation, said Bishop David Ashdown of the diocese of Keewatin, who gave permission for the demolition. “It enabled people to move on with their healing journey. Some of the people participating alleged they had been abused there,” said Bishop Ashdown. Mr. Rowe, who traveled around northern Ontario in the 1970s and 1980s to lead church services and take Boy Scout troops on trips, stayed at the house but had not lived there, said Bishop Ashdown. Bishop Ashdown, who did not attend the demolition, said he has performed ceremonies to “reclaim” areas where Mr. Rowe abused children. “There’s a nice place called St. James Point where (Mr.) Rowe used to take the Scouts. (After the abuse became known), no one wanted to go near there, so I went there and did a prayer service and reclaimed the place,” he said. In 1994, Mr. Rowe pled guilty to sexually abusing 16 boys between 1976 and 1981. He was convicted on 27 counts of indecent assault and one count of common assault and sentenced to six years in prison. He is currently facing an additional 56 sex-related charges that were laid in May 2003 by the Ontario Provincial Police’s Northwest Region Crime Unit. They were alleged to have taken place between 1971 and 1986, involving boys between the ages of six and 16. Mr. Rowe’s lawyer, Robert Sinding of Kenora, Ont., claims the additional charges violate the terms of an agreement between Mr. Rowe and the crown attorney in 1994 that stated Mr. Rowe would not be subject to additional jail time for incidents similar to the ones that were the subject of his guilty plea. Mr. Sinding claims the new charges violate Mr. Rowe’s rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Pretrial hearings began in August and were scheduled to resume this month before a trial date can be set.


  • Solange DeSantis

    Solange De Santis was a reporter for the Anglican Journal from 2000 to 2008.

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