MONTREAL, March 27, 2022 – Yesterday evening, the Jesuits of Canada were advised of the results of the community plebiscite that was held this weekend in the community of Kahnawà:ke. The plebiscite concluded that the remains of Father Léon Lajoie ought to be repatriated.
Grand Chief Kahsennehawe Sky-Deer, Chief Tonya Perron and the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke (MCK) have been respectful and listened to our positions. We are grateful to everyone, including the media for their patience while this critical vote was pending.
The Community seeks a peaceful resolution to this dispute that promotes healing. The Jesuits of Canada have made it clear that if the Community plebiscite should be in favour of repatriation, that they would arrange for the reinterment of Fr. Lajoie at the Jesuit Cimetière des Jésuites in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, and cover both the legal and other expenses.
The Report recently prepared by King International Advisory Group (KIAG), the independent firm commissioned by the Jesuits of Canada to carry out the investigation into the allegations, concluded that unless further information comes to light, its findings do not currently support allegations of childhood sexual abuse by Father Leon Lajoie during the period between 1956-1990.
Contrary to what has been published the Report did not “clear all allegations” against Fr. Lajoie but concluded that two of the complaints investigated were not well founded in fact, and that one, while credible, might have involved mistaken identity. It stipulated that further investigation should be undertaken into the possibility that young people had been harmed by others at the Church at certain times in the past.
In keeping with the spirit of the “Praedicate Evanglium,” or “Proclaiming the Gospel,” released this month by Pope Francis, the Jesuits of Canada remain committed to continuing the investigation of allegations of wrongdoing at the Church. The KIAG report sets out recommendations for support and follow up that will be acted upon.
This process will require further dialogue with the MCK, the Community and the parishioners of St. Francis-Xavier Mission who are so deeply affected by these allegations. The focus and scope of the ongoing investigation must be determined in consultation with the parties that will be affected. We remain committed to working together towards the truth.
Our immediate steps will involve consultation concerning the processes that will be involved in the repatriation and the impact that this may have in the Community.
While Fr. Lajoie was a Jesuit and would have been buried at Saint-Jérôme in the ordinary course of things, he was considered a member of the Community by many at Kahnawà:ke. We recognize the deep hurt and sense of loss that the exhumation of his remains will cause the parishioners of the St. Francis-Xavier Mission.
Director of Communication
514-387-2541 x. 217