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September 27, 2012 9:43 PM   Subscribe

Earlier today, Vancouver free weekly The Georgia Straight published allegations that VANOC CEO, Chairperson of Own the Podium and Executive Chair of the Vancouver Whitecaps F.C. John Furlong (O.C., O.B.C.), is guilty of physically and psychologically abusing students at a Northern B.C. First Nations high school forty years ago.

The article reveals that Furlong did not enter Canada in 1974 as his memoir, Patriot Hearts, claims, but in 1969 as a Oblate Frontier Apostle missionary. The allegations have particular significance due to the fact that the Vancouver 2010 Olympics claimed to be the first to incorporate Aboriginal peoples into the ceremonies as fellow host nations (with mixed reception). The Straight article, written by Laura Robinson and supported by eight sworn affadavits, alleges sustained and multiple cases of physical, psychological and, possibly, sexual abuse.
[Beverley] Abraham closes her eyes and fights tears. She says Furlong regularly made the same four girls—her and three friends—stay behind after phys-ed class, one at a time. The three friends were the ones who started drinking with Abraham. She says the three committed suicide in later years. “Every time I started phys-ed, I was honestly always afraid. He stood by the change-room door. [A nun] would say, ‘Okay, girls, come on.’ We were just afraid to go. He really degraded our name and our inner self. No wonder they call us drunks. Why did we drink so hard? Immaculata School.”
Furlong responds to the allegations. The RCMP is investigating.
posted by Catchfire (72 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is not a comment on these specific allegations but the scenario rings true with what is known about the Indian residential school system, in which schools (usually operated by Christian churches) had as their objective the assimilation of Aboriginal children into non-Aboriginal society. Physical abuse and neglect were widespread.
posted by docgonzo at 9:49 PM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


One more reason to hate the shitbags that currently run this province. Anyway, here's the full video of his newser today if anyone's interested as well as the Georgia Straight response to his response.
posted by doublesix at 10:10 PM on September 27, 2012


Furlong's book is called Patriot Hearts. Patriot Games is a Tom Clancy novel.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:12 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's all too believable. I'd like to think we could forgive Furlong if he came clean. An 18 year old missionary in 1969 in Burns Lake... that's a whole different universe than the here and now. But if there's any truth to it, it's also pretty clear he's gone to some trouble to conceal it, and is sticking with the "it never happened" defense. Which is his decision, fine, but bring on the criminal investigation.
posted by mek at 10:51 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Fixed "Games" to "Hearts"]
posted by taz at 10:59 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


That pull quote is heartbreaking. The shit people do to one another.
posted by Phire at 11:08 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's information on the residential schools system in Canada.

I'm not sure people will forgive Furlong if he's been covering this up. As the Straight notes, he has the Order of Canada, Order of BC, Olympic honours, various honorary degrees, and he gets $25k per speaking gig "because he speaks commandingly about teamwork and commitment, emphasizing the importance of values, honesty, and integrity".

The Straight suggests he was in Canada from 1969-74 and only returned home to Ireland for a cousin's funeral. That would mean the story we've been told is grossly inaccurate.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 11:12 PM on September 27, 2012


Nutty story. Furlong is like "Mr. Integrity" in BC.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:17 PM on September 27, 2012


On the other hand, the Times-Colonist, Van Sun and G&M are all over this story (British Columbia is a relatively small community, so journalists at the top-tier media outlets tend to refrain from meaningless attacks on reputation), which suggests to me that this story has legs.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:25 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Boy, those Catholics sure know how to have fun and win converts! But I guess there's nothing to this story that is exclusively a Catholic thing, apart from "priests and nuns". I never quite understood why the RC Church thought it was advantageous to have their primary representatives be agents of pain and abuse. But you know, Jesus was really into beating kids!
posted by Goofyy at 11:25 PM on September 27, 2012


This is huge. If true it will be utter destruction for Furlong. If false it will totally destroy the reputation of the Straight. They must know what's at stake. With eight sworn affidavits it does not look good for Furlong.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:26 PM on September 27, 2012


hmmmm, what are the odds that someone on MeFi actually owns this guy's book? I'm really curious to know, did he just not happen to mention what he was doing during the missing 5 years?

Either way, it's going to be interesting when they manage to track down some of the 'non-native' students and get their side of the story. Actually, they may not need to be tracked down if they're still in BC, cause this story will be in every paper tomorrow morning.

Unexpected from the Georgia Straight too. Sounds like they've been working on it for awhile. Generally it's just where you turn to look up the latest concert listings (though the horoscopes are the most accurate I've come across).
posted by mannequito at 11:33 PM on September 27, 2012


Gary Mason, the Globe journo who wrote Furlong's book was at pains to point out (on twitter) that the book was a memoir not a biography, implying that the book was not intended to be an exhaustive life story and therefore that perhaps this omission was acceptable. But on the other hand Mason appears to have been blind sided by this too. I've had some run-ins on twitter with Mason over his advocacy for the claims of the ludicrous Vivian Krause in the past so I'm finding the idea that Mason has been tripped up by not checking the stories he's been told by his subject fairly delicious.
posted by pascal at 11:36 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's long been my policy to mistrust people who are eager to tell you how awesome they are. My skepticism is inversely proportional to the number of awards and accolades they receive. The most amazing people I know would run a mile in tight shoes to avoid putting themselves in the spotlight.
posted by orrnyereg at 11:43 PM on September 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


so I'm finding the idea that Mason has been tripped up by not checking the stories he's been told by his subject fairly delicious.

He's sort of a lesser Margaret Wente.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:07 AM on September 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yes, if this is proven to be true, it will spell the end for Furlong. It does seem very weird to me that he would imply to his biographer that he arrived in Canada in 1974 if he had actually arrived five years earlier, with nary a word about what he was up to all that time. Well, his whereabouts should not be too hard to prove either way--there will be records of who taught at that school, kept by the Catholic Church. Oh wait, here we go:
(Frontier Apostle records are tightly guarded by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Prince George; the Straight was told in April in Prince George that those records were closed.)
Well, I guess those records are going to be opened right back up now that there will be an RCMP investigation. Should be interesting. Of course, his just *being* at that school in Burns Lake would not prove anything, but it will be awfully strange if it turns out he had conveniently omitted that chunk of Canadian experience from his life story.

From the transcript of Furlong's video statement: "It is also beyond all belief that the Georgia Straight newspaper did not place a single call to me to validate any of the elements of this story."

From the Straight's response: "Marvin Storrow, Furlong's lawyer, did not make his client available to respond to questions from the journalist, Laura Robinson. She also attempted without success to reach Mr. Furlong through his publisher, Douglas & McIntyre. Ms. Robinson was told that Mr. Furlong had 'nothing more' to say to her."

I sure hope the truth comes out and, if Furlong did commit the abuse, that justice is served.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:25 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


For context, I'm going to go ahead and mention that the Georgia Straight often has utterly preposterous journalism sprinkled amongst escort ads.
posted by dobie at 12:45 AM on September 28, 2012


pascal: so I'm finding the idea that Mason has been tripped up by not checking the stories he's been told by his subject fairly delicious.

Kokuryu: He's sort of a lesser Margaret Wente.

OH BURN
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:48 AM on September 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


forty years ago

There is no statute of limitations in Canada on major crimes such as sexual assault and murder. These crimes can be prosecuted and perpetrators arrested at any time in the future.

It's never too late.
posted by three blind mice at 12:49 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where are the allegations of murder and/or sexual assault? I only see accusations of verbal and non-sexual physical abuse, but that of the most egregious sort, designed to destroy personalities. One can wonder, when he returned to Ireland, did he help the Church in it's abuses there, to keep in shape, before returning to 'make Canada better'?
posted by Goofyy at 1:05 AM on September 28, 2012


The Tyee interviewed Laura Robinson, the Georgia Straight reporter about whom Furlong said, "Having experienced this reporter on many occasions in the past this feels very much like a personal vendetta."
[Robinson] said she has only met Furlong twice. She said she tried asking him in 2008 or 2009 in Ottawa about the lawsuit against VANOC by women seeking to ski jump in the 2010 Winter Olympics. She said the second time was in April 2011 at a newspaper industry convention in Richmond, B.C. She said she tried asking him questions about his time as a Catholic missionary.

"He wouldn't let me finish my sentence, he screamed stop it and walked away," Robinson said.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:06 AM on September 28, 2012


Robinson told The Tyee she would be consulting with her lawyer.

Wait, she hasn't already been speaking with a lawyer?

Robinson's story also calls into question Furlong's version of his cousin Siobhan Roice's death in a Dublin terrorist bombing.

It definitely does sound like Robinson has a bit of a thing for Furlong. As does Bob Mackin, the author of the Tyee article.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:29 AM on September 28, 2012


From the various statements, the lines look rather clearly drawn. Maybe a bit of weasel-wording in Furlong's statement--him saying the "newspaper" did not contact him might be technically true if the reporter contacted his representative(s)--but it's hard to see how one side isn't lying through their teeth.
posted by ambient2 at 2:49 AM on September 28, 2012


Even if specific allegations are never proven, his mere presence at a residential school in the 60's-surely to be verified one way or the other before long-would to most Canadians suggest complicity with a vile program of abuse and cultural genocide. Having hidden it in the past just amplifies that.

What a bizarre and horrible story.
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 3:48 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry, not a residential school. My mistake.

CBC now says it has confirmed his presence in Burns Lake from 1969.
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 3:51 AM on September 28, 2012


And the linked Wikipedia article already has a reference to this allegation? I know nothing about this guy, just reading the post at home while having my coffee. None of this rings true to me while reading it.
posted by sfts2 at 4:35 AM on September 28, 2012


And the linked Wikipedia article already has a reference to this allegation?

Hardly surprising, is it? Wikipedia is almost expected to be up-to-date on any reasonably interesting news these days. (Looking at the edit history of that page, there's already been a bit of vandalism - anyone know if there's an automated system for calling it 'current events' and triggering the edit protection?)
posted by jacalata at 5:15 AM on September 28, 2012


Actually not really, it is pretty surprising in my opinion. I think that you and I might have a bit of a different interpretation of 'reasonably interesting' in a global 'everything' context. A little too current for me to assume anything other than hatchet job perhaps by an over-zealous investigative reporter. Not to say their might not be a nugget of truth, who knows. Maybe he is a major pedofile, just doesn't really strike a chord in vercity with me. Only feelings here.
posted by sfts2 at 5:27 AM on September 28, 2012


I never quite understood why the RC Church thought it was advantageous to have their primary representatives be agents of pain and abuse.

After all, everyone knows every single priest and nun has always behaved exactly the same everywhere ever. *sigh*

---

Can someone explain the connection between these allegations and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics mentioned here? I'm not understanding how one impacts the other. (Did he take credit for something he shouldn't have, or did he block an earlier hosting attempt, or...?)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:37 AM on September 28, 2012


Empress, there's the whole thing that the Vancouver Olympics were supposed to be hugely inclusive of the First Nations, not just in a token way, but as a fully hosting nation, partnered with Canada. The whole idea was that the FN and Canada would on equal footing in terms of hosting, rather than one being a dependent on the other. That the Chairman has now been revealed to have abused First Nations kids when he has a reputation for integrity and honesty, well, that tarnishes the whole attempt at being inclusive!
posted by LN at 5:44 AM on September 28, 2012


Thanks, but I think I need one more puzzle piece -- I think maybe I'm not aware what Furlong is exactly the chairman of precisely. (The Vancouver Olympics organizing committee? Vancouver itself?)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:46 AM on September 28, 2012


(Mind you, I'm well convinced that whoever he is, he sucks dingo kidneys.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:46 AM on September 28, 2012


A recounting of many First Nation's people's experiences with residential schools and the like and another overview of residential schools. You may notice that Ernie Crey is a co-writer on Stolen From Our Embrace. He is also the brother of Dawn Crey.

Forty years is nothing. I see people hammered flat by what they lived through in these 'schools' on a nightly basis at work. Many of them end up in the DTES, many of them were and continue to be victimized and killed by bastards like Pickton. It's a hateful fucking bell that never stops ringing.

If Furlong did these things I want him run out of town on a fucking rail.
posted by moneyjane at 5:46 AM on September 28, 2012 [12 favorites]


Empress, Furlong is:
a) Chair of the Vancouver Olympics Organizing Committee
b) Chair of Own the Podium, a federal funding program that gives money to promising athletes,
c) Chair of the Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club.

Dude has control over a lot of money, access and prestige, and is in a position to make or break a lot of people's careers. That he's also endorsed by the federal government (both as Chair of OTP, and as a member of the Order of Canada) is also ironic if these sorts of allegations turn out to be true. The government is *extremely careful* who they pick for these high profile jobs; if the allegations are true, this guy's career is not only over, he becomes political kryptonite forever.
posted by LN at 6:02 AM on September 28, 2012


Thanks, LN - all is totally clear now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:03 AM on September 28, 2012


And the linked Wikipedia article already has a reference to this allegation?

Have you met the Internet?

A little too current for me to assume anything other than hatchet job perhaps by an over-zealous investigative reporter.

"I don't know enough so I'm just going to assume one particular side is right."

Thanks, but I think I need one more puzzle piece -- I think maybe I'm not aware what Furlong is exactly the chairman of precisely. (The Vancouver Olympics organizing committee? Vancouver itself?)

From the FPP: "VANOC CEO, Chairperson of Own the Podium and Executive Chair of the Vancouver Whitecaps F.C."

Cities don't have chairmen.
posted by kmz at 6:06 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


mannequito writes "(though the horoscopes are the most accurate I've come across)."

lol.

sfts2 writes "I think that you and I might have a bit of a different interpretation of 'reasonably interesting' in a global 'everything' context. "

It's not like a global vote needs to be taken to update the page; there are a few million people in Vancouver any one of which could find this breaking news wiki worthy.
posted by Mitheral at 6:14 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Boy, those Catholics sure know how to have fun and win converts!

Most major Christian denominations (Catholic, Anglican, United) in Canada have been implicated in abuse of native children at residential schools, etc. This school was apparently not technically a residential school, as many of the children were day students, but it was still part of the same program of assimilation by force and, apparently, filled with the same racism and abuse.

Reading this, I was shocked that it did not come earlier - I even thought, could there have been two men of the same name? Surely someone would have noticed that he totally misrepresented when he emigrated and why in his memoir.

But the allegations, sadly, are extremely believable. The treatment of our First Nations is our national shame.
posted by jb at 6:20 AM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Though I'm not religious I do believe in evil and that a demonic, satanic presence in this world is represented by child predators - whatever stripe they come in.
posted by incandissonance at 6:26 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fuck the settler genocidal state. And this guy.
posted by spitbull at 6:33 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Top story on CBC just now: Vancouver Olympics CEO 'categorically' denies abuse allegations.
posted by scruss at 6:44 AM on September 28, 2012


To put it another way and to make it easier for non-BCers to understand, in the context of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Gordon Campbell was Annakin Skywalker, and John Furlong was Obi Wan Kenobi.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:45 AM on September 28, 2012


I want to reiterate that this is totally unacceptable from Furlong. But what's worse is his inability as an adult to apologize for it. But he clearly cares more about not paying a cent to those he's wronged than even attempting to preserve his reputation, which is sad. All he has to say is "I was a stupid kid and I believed some very wrong things at the time, I deeply regret that chapter of my life and ever since those mistakes as a teenager have worked hard to make Canada a better place," but he might have to give up some of his pile of money after. Boo hoo.
posted by mek at 6:53 AM on September 28, 2012


To put it another way and to make it easier for non-BCers to understand, in the context of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Gordon Campbell was Annakin Skywalker, and John Furlong was Obi Wan Kenobi.

OK, now I'm confused.
posted by kmz at 7:22 AM on September 28, 2012


For context, I'm going to go ahead and mention that the Georgia Straight often has utterly preposterous journalism sprinkled amongst escort ads.

For further context, I'm going to mention that the Straight has a long and storied history in Vancouver--it was founded in 1967--and is the recipient of numerous awards: "[I]n 1995, it received five "Western Magazine Awards", and, in the two years up to June 1996, it was nominated more than forty times and won twenty prizes, including three National Magazine Awards. In 1999, The Straight won eight Western Magazine Awards, including "Magazine of the Year", and its seventh consecutive, "Best Business Article"." (cite from Wikipedia). It's not some fly by night scandal rag. If they're running this story, I believe it.
posted by jokeefe at 7:24 AM on September 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


The thing with this sort of story (serious allegations, a lot of victims willing to step up, well organized story that isn't just a fly-by-night splash page) is that the the downsides of faking it are so much greater than the upsides of telling the truth. A newspaper breaking a scandal story against a beloved public figure--true or false--will sell more papers for a short amount of time, but then they will find themselves in protracted legal entanglements, a court of public opinion, and a hell of a lot of trouble in general. If the story is true, they'll have helped the victims on their way to justice. If the story is false, they might be held legally liable for printing slander, their reputation will go to hell, and possibly their livelihoods as well. Even assuming Murdoch-style villains who care not for the integrity of the printed word as long as they can get some ad buys, the calculus just isn't there. It'd be well within any paper's interest to do as much fact-checking and corroboration as possible before taking this significant risk.

Which is not to say that I'm willing to write off Furlong from the get-go. These are accusations, after all, not charges, and he certainly seems to have done lots of good in his life as well. But it would also be naive to dismiss the allegations simply because they don't sound realistic, or because Furlong questioned the reporter's character. (Though I'd love to know what his reasoning on why Robinson supposedly has a vendetta against him.)

I'm genuinely curious: has there ever been a high-profile accusation like this where it turns out that all of the victims lied to the newspaper, or the newspaper coerced the victims into embellishing their story in order to make a bigger splash? If so, what has been the fallout from that?
posted by Phire at 7:37 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


One, thanks for the games/hearts brainlapse correction. Two, Immaculata was not a residential school. Three, the Straight is a respected publication with a long history of integrity and bravery and it's editor teaches at all major journalism schools in Vancouver-area universities and colleges.
posted by Catchfire at 7:43 AM on September 28, 2012


A newspaper breaking a scandal story against a beloved public figure--true or false--will sell more papers for a short amount of time, but then they will find themselves in protracted legal entanglements, a court of public opinion, and a hell of a lot of trouble in general.

As I mentioned above, it does not seem as though the reporter received legal counsel before Furlong threatened yesterday to go nuclear. So there may be a protracted legal battle.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:44 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


> A newspaper breaking a scandal story against a beloved public figure--true or false--will sell more papers for a short amount of time

It might be worth pointing out that the Straight is a free weekly - it relies on advertising for most, if not all, of its revenue.
posted by doublesix at 7:46 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Increased circulation in exchange for ad revenue, then. Thanks, doublesix.

KokuRyu, I thought that implied that Robinson had not received legal counsel for herself as a private citizen. I assumed that the Straight editorial staff would have consulted about the legal ramifications of a piece like this prior to publishing it, but maybe that's too idealistic of me.
posted by Phire at 7:48 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


It might be worth pointing out that the Straight is a free weekly - it relies on advertising for most, if not all, of its revenue.

One more time: the Straight, over the last number of years, has done better and more extensive investigative reporting than the "traditional" papers. When I quoted Wikipedia on the awards it has received, I left one line out: "On May 23, 2009, The Georgia Straight won the prize for "best magazine article of the year" for "The Pill Pushers" by Alex Roslin from the Canadian Association of Journalists." I'd trust the Straight before I'd trust The Sun or The Province. They would never risk their reputations on a story like this simply to pick up more advertising.
posted by jokeefe at 7:51 AM on September 28, 2012 [10 favorites]


They would never risk their reputations on a story like this simply to pick up more advertising.

Yeah, that's why it seems as though this story has legs - the old boys club has turned on one of their own, although the Victoria Times-Colonist is actually a decent paper staffed by decent people.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:57 AM on September 28, 2012


At least the Straight is no Globe & Mail who hit the trifecta of naughty columnists this week, led by Peggy Wente's plaigarism, Leah McLaren using her column to try and sell her house and now Gary Mason's incorrect hagiography.
posted by docgonzo at 8:12 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you seek to set a king on fire, you don't use matches.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:14 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yikes. I get a pit in my stomach whenever the residential school system and other programs of its ilk such as this comes up. It is THE stain on Canada's identity (yes there's a much bigger picture about wiping out native cultures over several hundred years, but Canada is hardly unique in that).

Furlong's profile is so huge, and the implications so damning that I think its foolhardy to do anything more than wait for the investigation (and further reporting from other sources that have picked up the story) before casting stones at either Furlong or the paper/author.

The way many of the institutions implicated in systemic abuse (the government, the churches) has created somewhat of a path to redemption for the perpetrators (at least in the eyes of broader Canadian society, if not for the victims): full disclosure, sincere regret, working to make reparations where possible (the UCC has done as well as could be expected on this front). So if the allegations are true, Furlong could rescue himself at least somewhat through the right set of actions. But he's clearly shunned that route, so everybody's all in.

Also, yeah, the Globe & Mail has taken one body blow after another this week, mostly self-inflicted.
posted by dry white toast at 8:29 AM on September 28, 2012


sorry
*The way many of the institutions implicated in systemic abuse have responded to their past actions has created somewhat of a path...
posted by dry white toast at 8:30 AM on September 28, 2012


although the Victoria Times-Colonist is actually a decent paper

I just did a spit-take with my coffee.

Not sure what to think of this but I know people who worked closely with Furlong at VANOC and...they would not behold him as 'beloved'.

All this sounds a tad premature to be hung in the public light. Something that happened to children decades ago in a different context - if the story comes out like this the damage is already done regardless of whether he's innocent or guilty.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:37 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd trust the Straight before I'd trust The Sun or The Province.

Yes, for those not from these parts the Straight is the local free rag, and is a really valuable (if occasionally out there) voice in the city. The Sun and Province are horrible, multi-conglom, biased, lying rags and can be dismissed almost 100% of the time.

As others have said, if the Straight is running with this then they feel there is something behind it, they are too vulnerable, local and small to back the story if they weren't convinced.

although the Victoria Times-Colonist is actually a decent paper

No, I mean... just... no. Jack Knox. So much other stuff. Grammar... spelling... integrity... printing legible type and pictures...
posted by Cosine at 8:54 AM on September 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


At what point do the Olympics get recognized for being a humungous fly attracting turd?
posted by srboisvert at 9:10 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


What, you mean Romney's association with the Salt Lake variety hasn't done that already?
posted by Blue_Villain at 9:18 AM on September 28, 2012


The way many of the institutions implicated in systemic abuse (the government, the churches) has created somewhat of a path to redemption for the perpetrators (at least in the eyes of broader Canadian society, if not for the victims): full disclosure, sincere regret, working to make reparations where possible (the UCC has done as well as could be expected on this front).

Wait, what?

Upper Canada College (UCC) is Toronto's elite boys' school which has educated Canada's ruling class for centuries. The residential school system was an integral part of a stated government programme of eliminating indigenous cultures by forcibly removing and acculturating indigenous children. I'm having a hard time seeing your equivalence.

Also, the churches/government have not "created a path to redemption for the perpetrators." The settlement that came of the class action lawsuits relating to experiences in residential schools created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (for people who experienced the system, their children and communities) and the Healing Fund to pay out survivors of the schools, their descendants and estates. A primary function of the settlement was to protect the churches/governments from the liabilities they incurred which would likely have bankrupted all the mainline protestant denominations. A few individuals have been prosecuted as a result of their actions in the system. Most have escaped any punishment either through death or the inability of the RCMP to investigate complaints at the time.
posted by docgonzo at 9:35 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


UCC= United Church of Canada.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:39 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The curious thing for me isn't the fact that an unqualified 18 year old PE teacher was an abusive dick in the late sixties, but the erasure of that period from the memoir. If the memoir had contained one line, something to the effect of "I had been in Canada previously on a mission with the Catholic church, I was a gym teacher and a product of the attitudes of the times." None of this would have been newsworthy. NEWSFLASH: GYM CLASS TEACHER AN ASSHOLE.

I understand his attempt to control his personal narrative, Furlong is nothing if not an excellent self promoter but to gloss over a five year period and pretend the story begins after a half decade is bizarre.

Tragic for the man. Tragic for the victims of our worst natures manifested in the north towards Aboriginals. I also really hope the allegations of sexual abuse are unfounded.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:42 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Again, it's important to point out that the school in question is not a residential school; if only because it is important to remember that Canada's ongoing colonialist and genocidal project is not coextensive with residential schools.
posted by Catchfire at 9:44 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry Catchfire, I was one of the voices adding to confusion on that front. But even though it was a day school, it was part of the same system.
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 9:58 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, there is plenty of overlap with the way these students were treated, with the Oblates's involvement in the residential student system and that much of the violence committed there was also committed in other non-residential schools (note that in the article you link to, P-TCIS, even in their "acknowledgment," they claim that the schools were "begun out of necessity"), and with the way the government of Canada is complicit in the abuse of these First Nations children. But, in my opinion, that's why it is even more important to make the distinction between what counts as a residential school and the multitude of other spaces in which Aboriginal children were abused.

From the original breaking Straight article:
Former students at Immaculata and at Prince George College (later called O’Grady Catholic High School), where Furlong worked later on, are part of a national class-action suit against churches and the federal government. Under the narrow definition of what the federal government, in its Indian Residential Schools Settlement, determined was a “residential student”, they did not qualify for so-called common-experience payments. Residential and day students, Native and some non-Native alike, attended these schools. Native day students frequently experienced abuse from the same teachers, priests, and nuns as the residential students who were later compensated.
posted by Catchfire at 10:46 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, I mean... just... no. Jack Knox.

Jack Knox is a mensch! Perhaps this difference of opinion is why Victoria and Vancouver will always occupy two solitudes.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:13 PM on September 28, 2012


I'm from Vancouver and have been following this story. What I find interesting is that the major papers are reporting on it - but they're extensively quoting Furlong's response. And they seem only to mentioning that Furlong was allegedly in Canada and not for how long. Given that the Straight got copies of high school yearbooks, you'd think that the major papers could have, by now, pulled up some sort of records.

Also, the Prince George newspapers don't seem to be covering this in their online editions, at least not in a big way. The Citizen has an editorial today and that's it. The Straight alleges that Furlong taught in Prince George for a few years after leaving Burns Lake - and before "immigrating" to Canada, like he always tells people.

Also, the Straight is a free weekly and it does have a ton of sex ads at the back, but some of the reporting is excellent and the paper wins awards. It's staking a lot in printing this story and 8 sworn affidavits is something.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:27 PM on September 28, 2012


I saw a story in the Citizen that quoted a nun who worked with Furlong in PG (so, therefore, not in Burns Lake, and after the alleged abuse would have taken place) who said he was a saint and so on.

However, given the sorry state of race relations in northern BC (or the Island) where there are de facto segregated bars for example, it's not surprising.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:33 AM on September 29, 2012


Not that I want to be the one defending it, but The Province had an updated article earlier this evening that seemed to be balanced. They had quotes from a colleague of Furlong's supporting him, quotes from a Burns Lake tribal chief who was at the school at the time and claimed to see the abuse, plus neutral quotes from another Native leader who worked with Furlong for the Olympics.

Of course, no new information. The silence alone from all those directly involved is proof that the allegations are being taken very seriously.
posted by mannequito at 1:29 AM on September 29, 2012


God, I am tired of reading horrible stories from my hometown.

Hey, Prince George and surrounding area? How about getting your shit together and doing something awesome that doesn't involve people getting beaten and killed, mmmkay?
posted by jacquilynne at 10:25 AM on September 29, 2012


A "final statement" about the issue appeared today on Furlong's website.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:07 PM on October 2, 2012


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