Toronto Star


  • Oakville megachurch reveals new sexual abuse allegations against former pastor Bruxy Cavey
    by Brendan Kennedy – Social Justice Investigative Reporter on August 13, 2022 at 10:17 pm

    The Oakville megachurch embroiled in a months-long sexual abuse scandal said Saturday it has “substantiated” additional allegations against former pastor Bruxy Cavey, including one case involving a minor.The latest revelations were made in a statement and video released by the Meeting House, one of Canada’s largest evangelical churches, where Cavey had been an unconventional and popular pastor for 25 years until allegations of sexual misconduct were brought to the church’s attention in December.Cavey, 57, was charged in June by Hamilton police with sexual assault for his alleged abuse of one congregant, who told the Star that Cavey pressured her to keep their relationship secret.A church investigation into those allegations, which concluded in March, found that Cavey abused his power and authority as a member of the clergy and that his actions amounted to sexual harassment. Cavey resigned from the church then, describing the allegations in a blog post as “an extramarital affair.”On Saturday, the church said it had substantiated two additional allegations of sexual abuse against Cavey, and a third allegation was substantiated as sexual misconduct. The church did not provide any details about the allegations, except that in one case “the victim was underaged when the abuse took place.”Cavey’s lawyer, Brendan Neil, wrote in an email that he had not seen the allegations so “at this time it would be inappropriate to provide any comment.”The church said it had also substantiated an allegation of sexual abuse against former senior pastor Tim Day. The church similarly did not provide any details about the allegations against Day, who “chose not to participate in the investigation,” the church said. Day, who could not be reached for comment, has not been criminally charged.“In all cases the victims have suffered great harm, including psychologically, emotionally and spiritually,” reads the church’s statement, which is attributed to its “Board of Overseers.”The statement also acknowledges the “courage” and “bravery” of the alleged victims who came forward.“As a church leadership we humbly and profoundly apologize to them for the pain they have experienced at the hands of the Meeting House pastors whom they — and we — trusted.”Since Cavey’s resignation, the church said its victim advocate has received more than three dozen “allegations, disclosures and concerns” relating to clergy sexual misconduct, abuse and harassment. They hired a third-party investigator, Natasha Persaud, to investigate the allegations.The disclosures included allegations against Cavey and Day, as well as former pastors, Kie Naidoo and Dave Churchill. The church said they were already aware of some of the historic allegations against Naidoo and Churchill, who both faced previous criminal charges and have not worked for the church for “a number of years.”The church also said Saturday that they have adopted a “widely recognized” definition of sexual abuse from the Mennonite Central Committee, which states that sexual abuse by a church leader refers to “any sexualized behaviour that occurs within the church context and where one party has more power than the other.” The perpetrator can be anyone in a leadership position, paid or volunteer, the definition reads.In light of the new definition, the church said it now believed the allegations substantiated against Cavey in the first investigation constituted more than just an abuse of power and sexual harassment.“We have now concluded as a board that the actions substantiated in the first investigation constitute sexual abuse by a church leader,” the statement reads. “We truly apologize to the first victim for the length of time this has taken.”That victim, who is identified by the pseudonym Alanna in a recent Star investigation, told reporter Morgan Bocknek that the church’s initial statements minimized what she experienced.Day joined the Meeting House in 2001, according to Peter Schuurman’s 2016 doctoral thesis. He left the senior pastor role in 2015, but the Star could not determine when he left the church altogether. He was not employed by the Meeting House when the allegations against him first surfaced.Schuurman, who is now an adjunct professor of religion at Redeemer University, writes in his thesis that when Day was senior pastor he oversaw much of the day-to-day operations of the church and was the more detail-oriented yin to Cavey’s charismatic yang.He writes that Day and Cavey called themselves the “mom and dad” of the Meeting House family.The church, which has satellite locations across southern Ontario, is hosting a town hall at its Oakville headquarters on Sunday from 7 to 8:30 p.m.Brendan Kennedy is a Toronto-based social justice reporter on the Star’s investigations team. Follow him on Twitter: @BKennedyStar

  • SIU investigating after man shot by police following Scarborough stabbing died
    by Ande Fraske-Bornyk – Staff Reporter,Isaac Phan Nay – Staff Reporter on August 13, 2022 at 9:44 pm

    Police said officers shot a man after a woman was stabbed inside a home in the city’s east end Saturday afternoon.Toronto police said just after 2:30 p.m. that they were called for a woman who had been stabbed at a home on Midland Avenue north of Kingston Road. A release Saturday night from the Special Investigations Unit said a 42-year-old man may have injured the woman. “The man, believed to be involved in injuring the woman and who had a knife, took hold of a young child and entered a residence,” the SIU said, adding three officers shot the man.Toronto paramedics said they took a woman and a man to a local trauma centre. Police said the child is not physically injured.In an email later on Saturday, police spokesperson Stephanie Sayer said the man died from his injuries at the hospital. “The woman who was stabbed has serious injuries but is in stable condition in hospital,” she wrote. Three investigators and three forensic investigators are looking into the incident, according to the SIU.Investigators ask anyone who may have information about the incident, including video or photos, to contact the them at 1-800-787-8529 or online at Fraske-Bornyk is a reporter for the Star’s radio room based in Toronto. Reach her via email: [email protected] Phan Nay is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Reach him via email: [email protected]

  • Yorkdale mall lockdown lifted after police arrest man with firearm
    by Isaac Phan Nay – Staff Reporter on August 13, 2022 at 8:59 pm

    Toronto police said Yorkdale Mall went under lockdown Saturday afternoon after reports of a man shooting a gun nearby.Police said on Twitter that at about 2:15 p.m. a man was shooting a gun into the air while driving on Highway 401 near Allen Road. Police said they put the mall in lockdown when the man drove a dark blue Acura to the Yorkdale Mall parking lot.After about half an hour, police said they arrested a man in his 30s and recovered a firearm. No injuries were reported. The lockdown at the mall has been lifted.Isaac Phan Nay is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Reach him via email: [email protected]

  • Tables turned as Romana Didulo, supporters attempt to ‘arrest’ Peterborough police
    by Examiner staff on August 13, 2022 at 8:20 pm

    The “queen of Canada” led supporters to Peterborough’s police station on Saturday, calling for the “citizen’s arrest” of local officers.Instead, two of her supporters were arrested.Romana Didulo is a B.C. resident who claims to be an alien being with higher powers, and insists she is the ruler of Canada and, more recently, the world.“I am the head of state, commander in chief and head of government and queen of Canada replacing Queen Elizabeth II of England who has now been executed for crimes against humanity,” Didulo said in a September YouTube video.She has thousands of supporters across the country, including in Peterborough, where Frank Curtin organized Saturday’s event.He promoted it with a written statement from Didulo calling on “armed forces, special forces, black ops and special ops” to come to Peterborough to assist in the arrests of police over their enforcement of COVID-19 measures.The only arrests were made by police.Officers arriving for work at 4 p.m. were blocked from entering the building, police reported, adding that protesters tried to enter the station. “The officers attempted to take a protester into custody when officers were surrounded. A protester then struck two officers. In all there were about 30 protesters at the time of the incident,” police stated.This took place in a restricted parking area behind the station.Police charged a man from Millbrook, 54, with mischief and resisting arrest and another man, 56, with two counts of assaulting police. They were to appear in court Sunday.Although no names were released, one of the many social media videos shot and shared at the scene by Didulo’s followers shows Curtin being dragged into the station by police, his camouflage T-shirt coming off in the process.Police ask anyone with video to either send a link to [email protected] or to call 705-876-1122 ext. 555 or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or at it beganEarlier Saturday, people started to gather over the noon hour before Curtin addressed the crowd, calling for peace and calm. As about 40 people gathered around 1 p.m., Curtin, who was livestreaming the event, told the crowd to wait for the “military” to arrive.“I don’t have a problem going to get lunch, their suppers, even get cots if you want to sleep here,” Curtin told the crowd via a megaphone. “We are not leaving here today, and when those officers try to leave here today, we are going to arrest them.”He then led the way to the police station door, only to find it locked, with no response when he rang the buzzer and knocked.One man with Curtin suggested striking a counterprotester to get the police’s attention, adding “I’m joking!”That counterprotester was a person wearing an orange medical mask and carrying a sign reading “Vaccines Save Lives.” He chanted the slogan repeatedly, along with “Hail Satan.”At one point, when members of the group gathered at Confederation Square, the counterprotester was confronted and told to leave. One of Didulo’s supporters then grabbed and tore the sign.In another interaction caught on video, a woman yanked the man’s backpack and pulled his mask off his face before another man stepped in and advised her to leave him be, saying “Don’t engage — that’s what they want.”Later, police issued a statement: “ … an incident involving a protester and a counter-protestor occurred. Police are currently investigating this incident.”Didulo has called on her supporters to kill people promoting vaccines for children.She and her supporters also recommend not paying bills and regularly serve “cease and desist” orders on police, pharmacists and health workers over health mandates. She raises money through online crowdfunding.Many of Didulo’s ideas come from QAnon, a U.S. conspiracy movement whose followers believe in an organized child trafficking network led by Democrats, and that Donald Trump is their saviour. They’re also opposed to all COVID-19 measures, saying the pandemic is a hoax.By mid-afternoon the group continued to gather at the main entrance of the station at Water and McDonnel streets. A smaller group stood at a rear entrance.Didulo herself arrived in an RV with her photograph on the side, accompanied by a black vehicle with her faux presidential seal and several security staff wearing white hats, pants and jackets.She stepped out briefly to hand out bottled water and plates of food to supporters.After the arrests, Didulo took to social media to livestream about the incident, saying she had seen a triangular military craft above the police station with “special forces.”The gathering attracted a few onlookers not associated with Curtin or Didulo, including people lining the sidewalks and nearby residents sitting on their porches and front steps to watch the events unfold.A smaller group of protesters remained on the scene into the evening, as did Didulo’s RV, which left the area around 7 [email protected]

  • 24 people arrested, 54 charges laid in connection to organized crime group in southern Ontario
    by Ande Fraske-Bornyk – Staff Reporter on August 13, 2022 at 2:52 pm

    Twenty-four people have been arrested in connection to a criminal group reportedly responsible for numerous criminal acts including tractor-trailer cargo thefts throughout southern Ontario.On Saturday, Peel police released a statement saying that earlier in the year, investigators were focusing on an “emerging organized criminal group” that had been operating in Peel Region and the Greater Toronto Area.According to police, a special project team was formed and financially supported from the Government of Ontario — Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario (CISO).“The suspects used violence, intimidation and financial reward to recruit members and commit criminal acts,” police said. “This group is believed to be responsible for multiple weapons offences, cargo thefts and drug trafficking.”As a result of the investigation, police said 24 individuals with suspected affiliation to the criminal group were arrested. Fifty-four charges relating to possession, firearm, fraud and theft were laid. Police said search warrants to 14 premises were conducted that led to the location of ten stolen vehicles valued over $1.1 million, illegal opioids worth over $25,000, stolen heating and air-conditioning units valuing over $460,000 and four firearms.“Investigators would like to thank the Criminal Intelligence Services of Ontario, Canada Border Services Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police, Toronto Police Service, York Regional Police Service, Halton Regional Police Service, Peterborough Police Service and Vancouver Police Service,” police stated in the release.Anyone with any information about this investigation is asked to call investigators from the 21 Division Criminal Investigation Bureau at 905-453-2121, extension 2133. Ande Fraske-Bornyk is a reporter for the Star’s radio room based in Toronto. Reach her via email: [email protected]

  • I am an angry Afghan woman. One year after the Taliban took power, let my anger move you
    by Rahela Nayebzadah – Contributor on August 13, 2022 at 2:00 pm

    My anger rose on Sun. Aug. 15, 2021, the evening Kabul was captured by the Taliban. I posted a video of myself crying on social media after having spoken with my 29-year-old cousin from Kabul. As he was hastily covering his tattoos, hiding his books and discarding his son’s toys, I could hear the Taliban firing gunshots outside his home. Our conversation ended with him pleading, “Don’t forget our voices.” I was sad and frustrated, but mostly angry. The video went viral on social media, being viewed over two million times and earning me 22,000 followers on TikTok within hours. An outpour of sympathy flooded my inbox from viewers who wished to stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan.As political leaders remained quiet on Afghanistan, I used TikTok to educate and spread awareness on the brutalities Afghans faced under the Taliban regime. I posted private messages exchanged with my cousin, photographs of my cousin undergoing laser tattoo removal, photographs of Kabul being overtaken by the Taliban, and many more. Unfortunately, as time passed, my audience lost interest. This led to more anger, which became more apparent in the content of my videos. However, my relationship with anger is not negative. Instead, anger has helped me move forward and put more effort into assisting families in Afghanistan.When Black, Indigenous, and women of colour show strong emotion — especially anger — it is read as negative. Portrayed as unreasonable, illogical, and having poor judgment, these women are shushed by the mainstream. Furthermore, they stand in opposition to whiteness and Western sensibilities. Yet, when a white woman shows anger, the response is different. Her voice is heard and demands action. I am an Afghan-Canadian woman who is angry, and I demand to be heard in the same manner as a white angry woman.Afghan lives matter for a fleeting moment. After the shock value has worn off, it’s off our radar. Some may call it trauma porn. Some may call it societies’ obsession with shock value. Call it whatever you please, but turning away does not mean that the suffering Afghans face has ceased.It’s distressing when we see images of women covered from head to toe. It’s distressing when young girls are sold by their fathers. It’s distressing when parents kill themselves because they can no longer provide for their families. After the distress becomes normalized — or, in my situation, after I stopped filming myself crying — Afghanistan is just another poor country.I’m angry at my family and friends who tell me to “let go” of the anger and instead be active and spread knowledge — as if knowledge can be separated from emotion. As if anger does not call for action. Knowledge is bound up with what makes us sweat, clench our fists, and tear our hair out.Getting non-Afghans to take action is one thing, but getting Afghans living in the West to take action is another. A different anger arises — an anger that burns deep in the flesh. As a Shi’a Muslim, it angers me to hear my own Shi’a community playing into our religion’s polarization and insisting that Shi’a lives in Afghanistan are more important than Sunni lives. Or, even worse, that LGBTQ lives in Afghanistan simply do no matter because they are “unIslamic.” Are these not ideas spread by the Taliban, who value heterosexual, Sunni, and Pashtun lives over all other lives?Afghans need to come together. We must be active and diligent in our efforts to fight for our country. Why have the posts of Afghan women dressing in their colourful and traditional clothing stopped? Why have the rallies, protests, and fundraisers for the people of Afghanistan stopped? Women in Afghanistan are fighting for their rights alone. Their voices are unheard as the Taliban strip away their basic human rights. Already, Afghan girls are not allowed to pursue a high school education, work many types of jobs, travel without a male family member, reveal their faces in public, or acquire a driver’s license. Where’s the outrage?My own community has forgotten. The media wanted us to forget about Afghanistan, and it has succeeded. Especially with the war in Ukraine, Afghans feel more forgotten.I’m angry with Canada’s response and its definition of “vulnerable Afghans.” Everyone in Afghanistan — young girl, woman, non-Pashtun, and non-Sunni — every individual in Afghanistan is vulnerable.I’m angry with my white friends who tell me to “tone it down,” “let’s not talk politics today,” or “your social media posts on Afghanistan make me depressed.”I’m angry that a year has passed since the West’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and not much has been done to improve the situation in Afghanistan.Hear my anger — let it touch you. See my anger as knowledge. Be angry with me and demand anger. Push political leaders to address the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, demand for more Afghan refugees to be settled in Canada, and listen to our voices. Rahela Nayebzadah is the author of the novel Monster Child.

  • How a couple’s trip to Canada has led to tragedy — and more than $1 million in medical bills
    by Nicholas Keung – Immigration Reporter on August 13, 2022 at 12:00 pm

    Pegah Khaki spends each day with her husband. She bathes and shaves him; she brushes his teeth. Through his life, Hamid Sarabadani has been what some might call a neat freak. Even now, irresponsive in his hospital bed, his wife knows he would want to look clean and well groomed.Those aren’t her only tasks in her husband’s ward at North York General Hospital, where Kakhi knows staff on a first-name basis after the past year of visiting.As Sarabadani’s primary caregiver, she also changes his diapers. She refills his nutrition feed and exercises his limbs to make sure his body doesn’t get stiff as he remains in a medically vegetative state.This wasn’t how the semi-retired couple’s visit to Canada was supposed to go — stranded in the country not their own, facing medical bills of $1.4 million and climbing, their future in limbo.Khaki confides she and her two children have done their best to stay strong but have “come to reach the point of desperation.”In February 2020, Khaki and Sarabadani travelled from Tehran to see their daughter Sougol, 26, and son Soroosh, 22, who were studying in Montreal as international students — a trip the parents had made yearly since 2017.But this would turn out to be a pandemic year. As borders closed and flights were cancelled, the couple were unable to return home and forced to extend their stay. Unsure when global travel would resume, they moved that summer to Toronto, for its large Iranian community and a city they could get around without knowing French.On May 10, 2021, Khaki made her husband’s favourite Fesenjan, a famous Persian stew with walnut and pomegranate. As it passed their regular 6 p.m. dinner time, Sarabadani was nowhere to be seen and hadn’t called to alert Khaki he would be late from seeing a friend.Then their lone Toronto friend’s wife called and told Khaki that both their husbands had been involved in a serious car accident at Weston Road and Steeles Avenue, a busy intersection in the northwest corner of the city.“I just froze. I was in shock. I called my brother in Montreal and he told me to take an Uber to the hospital,” recalled Khaki, 47, who used to teach children with autism and Down syndrome and volunteered to support Afghan refugees in Iran.“I was dropped off in the middle of nowhere. I was alone and didn’t know where the emergency department was. There were guards there because of COVID. I just started crying and screaming.”When she was finally let into the emergency department, staff at Sunnybrook Hospital informed her that Sarabadani was undergoing multiple surgeries but no one was able to tell her how bad his injuries were. It was in the waiting room in the early-morning hours when Khaki saw in the news the mangled wreckage of his husband’s tiny Ford Focus.“It was our car. It was unrecognizable,” said Khaki, who waited two days before she was allowed to see Sarabadani when his condition had stabilized.According to Sunnybrook’s medical report, Sarabadani suffered a closed head injury with multicompartment intracerebral hemorrhage, rib and pelvic fractures, internal bleeding with two litres of flesh and clotted blood in the peritoneal cavity, tears to his intestines and complete loss of muscle use in lower abdomen, buttocks, legs and feet.A police witness report stated that shortly before 6 p.m., a dark grey Honda CRV had approached a red light at the intersection at an “extremely high speed” and rear-ended Sarabadani’s Ford hatchback, which then flipped over another vehicle before landing in the middle of the intersection.Only earlier this year was Khaki informed that the charge of negligent driving against the Honda CRV driver was dropped because he had experienced an undiagnosed diabetic episode when the accident happened, said the family’s injury and insurance lawyer, Marjan Delavar.Although Khaki and Sarabadani both had coverage of as much as $25,000 under their extended travel insurance plan and as much as $1 million under an auto-insurance policy, Sarabadani’s medical bills at Sunnybrook and later at North York General have already reached $1.4 million, and are climbing.“In this case, they did everything right in the sense that even though they were visitors, they had secured travel insurance and were renewing their travel insurance as their visa status was being renewed because of their inability to return to Iran during the pandemic,” said Delavar. “But never could anyone have envisaged such a devastating accident.”During the pandemic, the Ontario government has had a temporary policy to pay hospitals and physicians for necessary services to uninsured patients, including visitors in the country. However, Delavar said Sarabadani was denied coverage because he was involved in a car accident and covered by an auto insurance policy.“A Canadian … caused an accident that has effectively ended the life of a robust, healthy, active 56-year-old breadwinner. That person who was initially charged has now not only recovered from the accident, but is going on to live his life fully with the charges completely withdrawn,” noted Delavar.“Canada is a wonderful country that doesn’t leave anyone behind. And we all have a duty to, at a humanitarian level and at a moral level, do right by this family, a family that is exhausted, financially drained and in a state of desperation.”In November, Khaki submitted a permanent residence application on humanitarian grounds for herself, her husband and their son, hoping the transition of status could help entitle Sarabadani for the medical coverage he needs while the rest of the family can stay, work and care for him in Canada.(Their daughter, currently on a postgraduate work permit, is already in the process of becoming a permanent resident. Khaki’s and her husband’s visitor visas have expired and a decision on their request to extend has been pending since March.)Their immigration lawyer, Pantea Jafari, said the couple had no intention of themselves residing in Canada because they had successful businesses and a comfortable life back home before the accident.However, Sarabadani won’t be able to get the same quality of care in Iran, where international sanctions mean some basic medical supplies are unavailable, she added. He is currently on 22 different medications and requires the care of various specialists. The family was advised that it is not impossible to transport Sarabadani to Iran but there are risks involved during the travel amid a pandemic.She said the family could have filed an asylum claim to have the man’s medical expenses immediately covered, but has chosen not to because they don’t see themselves as real refugees, people fleeing persecution. Neither would they agree to online crowdfunding unless every penny in their bank account is exhausted.In spite of their current plight and hardship, Khaki smiles fondly when she tells the story of how she met her husband at her grandmother’s funeral in 1988.It was love at first sight and Sarabadani would soon come to her family and ask to put a ring on her hand. However, her father insisted on her finishing school first but that did not stop Sarabadani from finding all excuses to come to her house to get a glimpse of her before they finally got married when she graduated from high school at 18.A graduate in mining engineering from the Technical University of Tehran, a top school in Iran, Sarabadani started working in and later owning a company importing ferroalloys for metallurgy factories before selling the successful business in June 2019. “Everything was good. We had a very comfortable life,” mused Khaki, who and her husband have bought two farms to grow kiwi and rice, and had planned to do more travels until they were hit by the mishap in Canada. “We never had to worry about money.”Their world has changed dramatically.“My father and mother were supposed to be enjoying their retirement. Who would know this could happen and suddenly your life just falls apart? Everything still feels unreal for us,” said Soroosh, their son, who dropped out of a food service management program last year and is sharing the responsibility with his mother to look after Sarabadani.“I hope people can put themselves into our shoes. We still have dignity. We are not looking for sympathy, but empathy.”Immigration officials say they are aware of the family’s circumstances. Their application has been in queue for processing since November — and the current processing time takes about 21 months.“This avenue applies to people in exceptional cases who have exhausted all other options. It is a last resort and provides an opportunity for the department to consider compelling humanitarian circumstances on a case-by-case basis,” said an immigration spokesperson.“A central part of this process is ensuring that each and every case is evaluated on merit, and receives due process.”Meanwhile, during her visits to the hospital, Khaki plays recordings of the voices of her husband’s elderly mother and his two sisters from back home, as well as his favourite Persian music, hoping he might respond with a wink, a smile or a nod.“I know there’s no hope for his recovery, but meanwhile, I need to do something to feel good,” said Khaki, as she gingerly seated Sarabadani into a chair and gently tugged some pillows around him to stabilize him and make him feel comfortable.“Sometimes, I think I’m doing all of this just for myself. Maybe it seems silly, but I cannot do nothing.”Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based reporter covering immigration for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @nkeung

  • Luminato Festival abruptly cancelled an exhibit by an Indigenous collective. Here’s the story behind the controversial decision
    by Aisling Murphy – Staff Reporter on August 13, 2022 at 11:00 am

    The Museum of Water started on a London street corner in 2013. An exhibit by British artist Amy Sharrocks, it was a tribute to water and a celebration of its significance. Sharrocks spent years collecting the specimens: vials of floodwater, containers of tears shed in grief and ecstasy, aromatic samples of sewer runoff, droplets that evoked the feeling of rocks rubbed smooth by rivers. The project became a meeting place, a space for reflection on the range of human experience.Sharrocks toured the show to other cities: Glasgow, Rotterdam, Perth. Four or five years ago she began thinking about Ontario as a next stop. Bordered by a gorgeous lake, Toronto could combine large-scale performance with poignant dialogue on the role of water in humanity’s ways of life. It was also a natural place to foreground Indigenous voices well-acquainted with water and its histories.Enter Luminato Festival. Luminato has a history of curating big work, much of it Instagram-friendly. You may recall the festival’s takeover of the Yonge-Dundas Square billboards earlier this summer, or the enormous disco ball of 2016. Luminato partnered with Sharrocks to form an Indigenous art collective based in Toronto. The work they created together was to be presented as the “Um of Water,” at Luminato in June 2022.The “Um of Water” collective — comprised of Indigenous artists and curators Sara Roque, Leslie McCue and Elwood Jimmy — programmed a series of talks; a medicine walk; meditations along the Humber River; sunrise and sunset paddleboard sessions; a feast and much more. In a unique innovation, Ontario’s water would be an equal collaborator in every event — a paid, protected artist itself.The “Um of Water” was to be a milestone, a reimagining of Sharrocks’s original idea and a beautiful collaboration in Toronto public art. Instead, an abrupt cancellation two days before the festival, with apologies from Luminato on social media, have rattled Toronto’s arts community.“Luminato takes full responsibility for the mistakes which led to the cancellation of this project and we are deeply sorry,” a Twitter statement read, linking to an official statement from the festival. The decision, Luminato said, was mutual — “a result of discussions between the ‘Um of Water’ collective and the festival.” In its apology, it referenced “internalized colonial systems and perspectives,” acknowledging that the festival had “engaged with Indigenous artists in ways that negatively affect some members of the Indigenous arts community.”The “Um of Water” artists responded with a press release of their own. Shocked by the cancellation, they charged the festival with a lack of accountability and criticized it for a culture of white supremacy. “This is not an isolated occurrence at Luminato, this is part of a repeating pattern of harmful behaviours against Indigenous communities,” their statement read. “These routinely extractive habits result in the accumulation of toxicity in bodies and shared spaces.”Two months after cancellation, the collective calls what happened at Luminato “disrespectful and unethical.” The artists describe a difficult rehearsal process marred by poor communication, lack of support and disrespect. They allege that although their invoices have been paid, not all affiliated artists’ fees have been paid in full.And in late July Sharrocks sent an email to Luminato with a request for financial transparency and a series of new demands. That was a week or so before the Guardian reported that Sharrocks was part of a trio of artists offered a six-figure settlement by the Tate museum, in London, over claims of discrimination, victimization and harassment after a cancelled show there. (While the Tate agreed to settle, it did not admit liability.)In her email to Luminato, signed “Um of Water,” Sharrocks asked that the remainder of the $156,000 budget earmarked by Luminato for “Um of Water” be paid out to the artist collective — with an equitable amount paid to the water. The email also asked for a $9,000 hosting fee, and for funds to support the collective’s mental and physical well-being during their healing process. How did an ambitious collaboration borne of hope and good intentions sour so irrevocably? And what happens next with an exhibit that has been eagerly anticipated for more than a year?“Um of Water” had a soft launch last fall. The show was originally to premiere at Luminato 2021, but when COVID-19 forced programming online, the collective created a virtual platform inviting audiences to reconsider their relationships with water — how they might use it in day-to-day life, how they might give back to the water and protect it from pollution. The website was a teaser for the collective’s in-person 2022 programming, according to collective member Leslie McCue, an artist, performer and arts administrator from the Mississaugas of Curve Lake First Nation.The first signs of friction emerged as the “Um of Water” pivoted back to an in-person model. McCue and her colleague Elwood Jimmy, an artist and arts manager with groups like Musagetes, recall that Luminato offered them a contract, but they were unwilling to sign it without significant amendments, including specific clauses protecting the safety of the Indigenous artists on the project. The collective had engaged several Indigenous artists and elders and wanted to ensure they were treated fairly.“We felt the contract they initially proposed to us was all about accountability, responsibility and the safety of Luminato,” said Jimmy in an interview. “But it wasn’t reciprocal at all. So we countered with amendments to the contract as well as recommendations around safety of Indigenous people … But they asked us to draft that contract for them.”In an email to the Star, a representative for Luminato said the “Um of Water” collective was provided with a “standard” contract, functionally identical to those provided to other festival contractors.“And we said no,” said Jimmy. “That’s not our responsibility … If you’re the engager, that’s not our labour. We’re not doing that. In the end, Luminato decided, rather than do the labour of writing a contract that was equitable to both parties, they just told us to invoice them.”The absence of a contract wasn’t the only issue. Festival personnel assigned to work with the collective over the course of the past year, according to Luminato, included artistic director Naomi Campbell and two producers: Sonia Sakamoto-Jog, a former executive director of the Reel Asian Film Festival and manager at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and Alison Wong, an artist and performer herself. Staff began meeting with the collective weekly, starting in November. Still, the “Um of Water” trio said lapses in communication made the creation process a frustrating one. According to McCue, they weren’t provided with an adequate production schedule, only the dates of the festival, which meant deadlines for marketing and publicity often came as a surprise. “Deadlines were shared with us consistently with a 24-hour turnaround,” said Jimmy in an interview.In statements, Luminato has apologized for not giving enough resources or support to the project, but its account differs on some of the details; a representative said the festival provided “a written program schedule” based on the collective’s proposed program and that key deliverables were reviewed with the collective at the weekly working meetings.Another point of contention for the artists was the programming’s marketing. Materials went public without approval from the collective, its members said. They took particular exception to an infographic that claimed “Um of Water” events were perfect for “artists, nature lovers or anyone who practices meditation.” The collective found this “a gross misrepresentation of the project.”A representative from Luminato said in an email to the Star that marketing copy for the website and brochure was written collaboratively during weekly meetings, with the language adapted to reach different audiences. The disconnect may have come from the disparate aims of the two parties: the artists wanted to centre the work in its artistic and political aims, with Indigenous aesthetics and values at the heart of the show. For festivals, on the other hand, marketing is typically a tool to bring in more visitors. If there was consultation and collaboration, the artists firmly believe there wasn’t enough.By the time marketing materials had gone live, the “Um of Water” collective had engaged a third-party Indigenous communicator, a mediator to liaise with the festival about marketing and, later, the festival’s apologies. The collective felt Luminato staff did not have a nuanced enough understanding of the project’s Indigenous framework. (The collective declined the Star’s requests for an interview with the communicator.)In May, the collective met with senior leadership staff and raised their concerns about the lack of resources and the way festival producers were handling their project. Then, a week before the festival, things came to an impasse. By late May the artists had grown alarmed that Luminato had not yet rented key audio equipment they needed for an “Um of Water” boat tour near Woodbine Park. The exhibit was a sonic art piece on the boat, and included an Indigenous elder and a commissioned musician. The sets of headphones required had been placed on hold. However, on a site visit — which the collective believes should have happened much earlier — each set turned out to require a mixer or receiver. These, according to another Luminato staffer who stepped in to help, were now impossible to procure in the current rental climate. The collective was frustrated by the planning failure on the festival’s part. In emails shared by the collective, the staffer said the rental company had sold out and put a moratorium on new rentals; the collective said they found the staffer “unsupportive.”During a contentious meeting, collective member Roque, a filmmaker and Indigenous Arts Officer with the Ontario Arts Council who was overseeing the sonic art piece, suggested calling the whole thing off — something the group told the Star later was “clearly” never a serious offer. “In exasperation and troubleshooting mode … she suggested that if those elements were not confirmed, we should consider cancelling it,” the group told the Star via email. Luminato CEO Celia Smith was present at the meeting. “There was a lot of discussion about the state of the project, a lot of views expressed that it was not in good shape,” she recalled in an interview. “And the collective did not feel like it could proceed in the current way. We all discussed this … Could we take parts of it? If we really applied ourselves to part of it would that work? There was a discussion from everybody about triaging this to see what could happen.”On June 7, just two days before the proposed opening of the “Um of Water” programming, Sakamoto-Jog went to Roque’s home with homemade custard tarts and a shocking update about the project: “Um of Water’s” programming would not be presented at the 2022 Luminato Festival. Sakamoto-Jog had joined Luminato in January; she learned of the extent of the logistical problems with the “Um of Water” programming in late May. “I think that’s the first indication we had that, that some of the details that were necessary to really present this fully were not in place in the way that we’d hoped and that there was some dissatisfaction from the collective about the process,” she told the Star. “The project — it did not feel ready. I was responding to concerns that Sara had raised and what would be needed to present it properly … So I was trying to have a conversation with her about that, which we did.”She followed up with the collective in an email. “Luminato will not be able to deliver the care and respect that the work deserves,” Sakamoto-Jog wrote to the collective. “I feel strongly that it will do more damage to all involved if we continue to persist, with the little time and human resources that we have available.”Ultimately, given components of the project simply wouldn’t be ready in time, cancellation seemed the best option, Sakamoto-Jog told the Star. “The project was about a series of presentations … Pulling out some components and presenting them instead of others was not a fair or adequate presentation of the work as a whole,” she said.But the collective was stunned. Just that morning, Luminato had confirmed a British Airways flight to Canada from the U.K. for Sharrocks. The previous day, Sakamoto-Jog had said in an email that while it was clear the festival had “communicated timelines poorly and caused undue stress” to the collective, the festival wanted “to continue to work with (the collective) to determine what we can accomplish in the time that we have that we can feel good about sharing.” That week, a new Indigenous production manager they had brought on had sourced the receivers needed for the boat tour. And the collective had finally received a contract from Luminato. “There’s a quote there,” McCue said in June. “‘We look forward to working with you and trust that you will find the experience with the festival to be exciting and enjoyable.’ Just three days later to let us go …”The artists felt the project was still salvageable. “We were actually willing to take on a lot of the producer roles, the production management roles Luminato had not provided,” Jimmy said.Prior to May, McCue added, “we were doing some of those producing roles as a collective. We created a production schedule, we created a to-do list, those things never existed.”But now it was cancelled.“It was just awful. It was a humiliating act by the festival,” said Sharrocks in an interview. She still came to Canada and met with the collective. “They are the most extraordinary artists I’ve ever worked with —brilliant, and generous and extraordinary thinkers,” she said. “I am so glad to know them. It’s been really an extraordinary time of thinking and care and investigation.” That didn’t change her opinion about Luminato and “how far they’d fallen short as a festival.” It’s not the first time Luminato has faced controversy. In 2015, the festival hosted a panel on the ethics of programming “Exhibit B,” created by a white South African artist and featuring Black artists playing key moments in Black history, often in shackles and chains, to confront the tradition of 19th-century human zoos. The show had made waves after its debut at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, where even some of the performers were confused about the project’s aim. Luminato had considered mounting the exhibit, but after rumours circulated and detractors in Toronto criticized the idea, they decided against it. A roundtable about the play went forward instead.According to Denise Bolduc, the “Um of Water” case also isn’t the first time Luminato has demonstrated a failure to adequately support and advocate for Indigenous artists. Bolduc, an Anishinaabe and French artist and producer who was involved with “Um of Water” early on, has worked with Luminato for five years and led several programs there, including the 2017 opening event “Tributaries,” a four-part series of performances. Luminato 2022 screened her film “Zaagidiwin,” which reflects on social responsibility and examines the relationship between humans and nature. But Bolduc chose not to attend in a demonstration of solidarity with the “Um of Water” collective.Bolduc described her own contract work with Luminato as “consuming, intense and exhausting.” In a debrief after her work, she pointed out her difficult and disappointing experiences with the festival. She’s disappointed the “Um of Water” collective has been treated “so poorly.”When sent Bolduc’s allegations, a representative for Luminato called Bolduc a “respected arts leader and curatorial associate,” before saying that Luminato “listens to the arts community’s valuable criticism so that (they) can do better.”But Luminato’s apologies to the “Um of Water” collective have been their own point of conflict. Its public apology received negative feedback in comments on social media. The collective’s members later told the Star they had been sent Luminato’s apology but not given sufficient time to provide feedback before the apology went public. The festival then posted a second apology. That statement, in the collective’s opinion, still didn’t make it clear that the cancellation had been Luminato’s decision and not the artists’. The artists then met with Sakamoto-Jog on a Zoom call to discuss the second apology, but the meeting didn’t alleviate their concerns. Back home in Britain, Sharrocks was indignant. “If the manner of your apology is as offensive as the original offence, what’s the point?” she said with a sigh.A later social media post from Luminato offered an FAQ about the “Um of Water,” detailing why it had been cancelled, whether the artists had been paid and the next steps for the festival in this matter.Celia Smith told the Star she takes full responsibility for what happened. “Our job is to produce work and share artists’ creations with the world. So it is entirely on us to get this stuff out and produced,” she said. “We want to manifest people’s ideas. So that’s what we tried to do. And we weren’t able to do it.”Matters continue to unfold. After Luminato cancelled “Um of Water” programming, it promised the artists’ fees would still be paid in full. The collective asked for those payments to be processed sooner than the original June 30 payment date offered by Luminato. The festival said in mid-July everyone had been paid, but in a July 29 email sent to Luminato and shared with the Star, the collective alleged an Indigenous caterer, engaged in parallel with the “Um of Water” team, still had not received adequate compensation. (The festival told the Star the caterer was paid the 25 per cent cancellation fee she had requested in her invoice.)In the same email, Sharrocks requested payment of the remainder of the budget allocated to them for the 2022 festival — in total, about $156,000. (For context, in 2019, the festival ran on a budget of approximately $6.7 million.)Another mystery surrounds payment to the water, via a mutually agreed-upon donation to, an environmental activism group that advocates for water protection within the Arctic Ocean drainage basin. The “Um of Water” collective’s stipulation of water as an equal partner meant, for the collective, that Luminato would make a donation to a water conservation charity equal to an artist fee. In the July 29 email, the collective inquired about the amount of Luminato’s donation. The festival confirmed to the Star it has made the $3,000 donation it originally promised the collective it would make.Luminato Festival had also accepted $6,000 in financial support from Native Women in the Arts (NWIA), a not-for-profit organization based in Toronto, for the 2022 festival. “Luminato told us about the Indigenous programming happening across the festival, and they definitely spoke to us about the ‘Um of Water’ collective,” said the group’s artistic and managing director, Ariel Smith. “We were specifically supporting weekend programming at Woodbine Park. We were under the impression the funding would support Indigenous artists in that weekend of programming.”In late June NWIA had not yet heard from Luminato, but it had spoken with the collective. “We’re a very small, grassroots organization,” said Ariel Smith. “We know them — I consider them my peers, my colleagues, my community members. We wanted to make sure they didn’t feel gaslit, or like they were alone in this. We also wanted them to understand that we supported them despite having given money to the festival.”“We’re not happy to hear how they were treated,” she said.What happens next for the “Um of Water” remains unclear. The collective wants to remount the project. Some Indigenous festivals have reached out with interest in presenting the work; the team will be exploring these options.Luminato has expressed its hope the show will be mounted somewhere. “We are going to transform our methods in the future,” Celia Smith added. “We’re listening. And we’re paying attention to what happened.”For now, Torontonians interested in an exhibit that explores the stories of water from an Indigenous perspective will have to travel to New York to see Water Memories, a completely unrelated exhibition at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring timely work by a number of Indigenous artists. It launched days after “Um of Water” was cancelled.With files from Karen Fricker

  • He was a celebrity pastor at one of Canada’s biggest megachurches. Inside the sexual abuse allegations that brought down Bruxy Cavey
    by Morgan Bocknek – Toronto Star on August 13, 2022 at 9:00 am

    When she was in her early 20s, Alanna joined the Meeting House church in Oakville. It was supposed to be different from the ultra-conservative congregation she grew up in. The Meeting House was known for being casual, branded as “a church for people who weren’t into church.” Women were considered equals. Questions were welcome.It had blossomed into the third largest church in Canada, its popularity fuelled by its charismatic and subversive pastor, Bruxy Cavey.Cavey wasn’t the kind of church leader Alanna was used to. He kept his hair long and sported a beard. He wore T-shirts, cargo shorts and flip-flops.The magnetism of Cavey’s sermons made him larger than life. He was in such demand from Ontario’s Anabaptist evangelical Christians that his Sunday morning speeches were projected in movie theatres and satellite churches across the province.He was a cool pastor, Alanna remembers thinking, his teachings relatable and refreshing.He was also, she says, a man who wanted her to keep things secret.Alanna alleges he singled her out after she sought his help with counselling, his behaviour intensifying from flirtation and lingering hugs to groping. And it escalated. With hindsight of the imbalance of power between them, Alanna says he sexually assaulted her.At the time, he told Alanna not to tell anyone how close they had become, she alleges, instructing her to communicate with him only through encrypted BlackBerry messages. He gave her code words to use in their messages. When he sent “orange,” it meant to delete their history and not contact him, she said.She says Cavey told her “what they were doing wasn’t right but that God was permitting it,” and if their relationship became public, it would destroy them and the church, and many people would never hear about Jesus. For four years after it ended, she stayed silent. “I was in a brainwashed state,” Alanna said in an interview.In June, Cavey was arrested by Hamilton police and charged with sexual assault of Alanna.Under the Criminal Code of Canada, there is no consent if sexual interactions were induced by someone abusing a position of trust or authority. The criminal charge against Cavey has not been proven in court.Alanna is not her real name. Her identity is protected under a court-ordered publication ban. Since Alanna came forward, the Meeting House, once among the most prominent megachurches in Canada, has been besieged by scandal. Its leaders have acknowledged that three other former pastors have faced allegations of sexual misconduct, and many of its congregants are asking how an alleged culture of impropriety was allowed to persist.Cavey, who resigned from the Meeting House in 2021, did not respond to questions about Alanna’s allegations. In an emailed statement, his lawyer, Brendan Neil, said that as the matter is before the courts, Cavey was not able to comment.In a March 8 blog post, Cavey said he could not comment publicly on the allegations as the church continued its internal investigation, but said: “At the core of these allegations there is truth.” In the post, titled “my confession,” Cavey describes his actions as an “extramarital affair” that took place some years ago, referring to it as “my greatest failure, my darkest sin” and saying he takes full responsibility for his actions.“I was also irresponsible in my role as a spiritual leader and Christian clergy, which involves dynamics of power and influence and an expectation of exemplary conduct that makes me doubly accountable. I accept this responsibility, with deep regret for my actions.”In an interview with the Star, Alanna said what she experienced with Cavey was not an affair. It was clergy abuse. “He could get away with things that other people just wouldn’t,” Alanna said.Church leaders say four people have come forward with “allegations of abuse” against Cavey. The allegations have spurred a public unspooling of Cavey’s reputation as the subversive evangelical, a preacher who promoted a kinder, gentler Jesus for those who viewed religion, as he once described it, as a tiring “treadmill of legislated performance powered by guilt and fear.”“The church was built on his charisma,” said Peter J. Schuurman, an adjunct professor in religion at Redeemer University and executive director of Global Scholars Canada, who wrote his PhD dissertation on the meteoric rise of Cavey and the Meeting House.He said while Cavey did not hold the highest role in the church hierarchy, he held the power of personality that drew people by the thousands. “That centralized power in Bruxy Cavey.”Cavey’s untucked appearance as a placid pastor conflicts with the control Alanna says he wielded in his alleged abuse. “Blessed are the meek, not the angry alpha types,” Cavey said in a 2012 sermon, a video of which has been viewed online 18,000 times. “Frankly, when Christians have power, we don’t do better with it than any non-Christians. In fact, sometimes we do a far worse job of it because we assume God is on our side and we quote any Bible passage we can to justify our wrath.”Alanna said she first met Cavey in 2010 at a Bible study he ran from his home for young adults. Some nights, after studying scripture, Cavey, then in his mid-40s, would serve martinis to young people in their 20s who would pile into a backyard hot tub, Alanna said. It wasn’t uncommon for Bible study students to spend the night, crashing on Cavey’s couch.She says she started to see Cavey for counselling regarding her own relationship. Her partner was cheating on her, she told Cavey. The pastor told her to tell no one how close he and she were becoming, she alleges. When she was 23, she says, he told her she was “wise above her years” and an old soul. He told her he was invested in understanding her. It made her feel important.He also asked graphic questions about her sex life that gave her pause, she says, but at the time felt relevant.“I was trying to excuse away all these red flags,” she said.Soon, she says, he told her he was attracted to her. He would pray with her to thank God for her, she says. He told her she was the person who understood him most, that she was his soulmate, she says. One time, she alleges, Cavey took her hand, held it against his penis and said, “This is what you do to me.” In the summer of 2013, he invited her to the CNE with his family. They sat next to each other on a ride. When it went through a tunnel, he groped her in the darkness, she alleges. She said his daughters were in the cart behind them.Alanna comes from a strict conservative background. She grew up hearing that women tempt men, and it was their fault when it got to a point that made them uncomfortable. “I never wanted to be in the situation … I was like, ‘OK, I guess I did this to him,’” she said in an interview. “I couldn’t understand how dangerous he was at that point.”Cavey’s rise to fame started in controversy.In 1991, around age 26, he became the pastor at Heritage Fellowship Baptist Church in Ancaster. The church’s leadership was looking for a new pastor after the last one departed in disgrace, having left his wife for another woman. Cavey stepped in, and soon the congregation of just over 100 people grew to 1,000, as news of the “intelligent and humorous hippie” spread, Schuurman, the religious scholar, wrote in his dissertation on Cavey.Then, in the mid-1990s, Cavey’s marriage collapsed. “The divorce went against his own biblical ethics, and he felt disgraced and so left the ministry altogether in early 1996,” Schuurman wrote, based on interviews with Cavey.“He was devastated and felt he could no longer remain as pastor at the Baptist church — nor any church, for that matter.”This episode in Cavey’s life became “an important part of congregational lore” at the Meeting House, Schuurman wrote.In the spring of the same year, Cavey was approached by the Brethren in Christ denomination to see if he would take on a pastor position at the Meeting House in Oakville. By the early 2000s, the Meeting House had grown to include several satellite churches, as well as a large warehouse that was converted into an auditorium with 1,200 seats. Cavey offered evangelical Christians a way to feel culturally acceptable, because of how different he was from pastors they were used to, said Schuurman.“He was cool, he was hip, and he wasn’t the angry, nasty, rigid, judgmental conservative,” Schuurman said in an interview.“He was funny. He was making fun of conservative Christianity while being conservative himself.”During a question-and-answer period that regularly follows the Sunday service, Cavey’s girlfriend proposed to him.“The reversal of traditional gender roles in this plucky proposal reinforces the growing lore around Cavey’s character as a self-confessed ‘beta male,’” wrote Schuurman.Cavey’s ability to command a crowd with relatable stories and an approachable demeanour made him a celebrity among Ontario’s Anabaptist Christians.Jenna Ward, a former Meeting House congregant, recalled her mother bubbling with excitement after bumping into Cavey in public. “It was like she saw Tom Cruise or something.”Under Cavey, the church for people who aren’t into church, as the Meeting House promotes itself, became the third-largest congregation in Canada, according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, with a weekly attendance of more than 5,000 people. Schuurman said the rise of the Meeting House felt different because of how it was packaged and presented.“It enabled people to imagine that they could thrive here and they could grow here and their children would embrace the faith in a fresh and meaningful and relevant new way. And it gave them hope,” he said.“Now, they’re crushed.”Alanna says Cavey told her what they were doing wasn’t right, but it was a grey zone.She says he would compare what they were doing to his views on gay marriage: it wasn’t right in the eyes of God, but when people found each other in commitment, God would find redemption in it even if it was not His will.He told her she represented Jesus’ sacrifice and forgiveness, she alleges. That God had brought her to him as a gift. They began having sex, sometimes in his white Honda Civic. “I don’t see it as sex. I see it as abuse,” Alanna said.She said he knew how much she loved God and would make everything in their relationship come back to God.“At any point I could have told someone and walked away, looking back. But at the time, you can’t. You’re going to wreck his life. I know what’s at stake,” she said.By 2018, she felt in crisis. She started to google what she was going through and did a quiz that told her she was a sex addict. She thought this was odd; she didn’t feel like a sex addict but felt as though she didn’t have control of her own body. Still, she went to a sex addiction support group.“And all the sex addicts are like, ‘No.’” They told her what was happening to her was “terribly wrong,” she said. Still, she felt support there, so for a couple months she kept going. She was then referred to a counsellor. After 10 years, she left the Meeting House and Cavey behind. About six months later, while she was at work, she got a notification from her security camera app. Cavey had gone to her house and dropped off a bag of his own published books on religion, she says. He’d even signed them for her.“It sent me into a pure panic attack at work.”She said she threw the books into the bay. “Like a bit of a baptism, maybe,” she said. It is the Anabaptist belief that a baptism is valid only when someone can freely consent to it. It’s not done to infants, as in other Christian denominations. Followers choose when they’re ready.Three years went by. She stayed out of church circles. But she kept thinking about what she calls “the abuse,” and thought there might be other people with experiences similar to hers.In late 2021, she said she felt God was telling her to come forward. She says she told two people close to her, then told Danielle Strickland, another popular pastor at the Meeting House.Strickland helped her report the alleged abuse to church leadership.“She was really only asking for one thing from the very beginning: for it to be named and for it to be prevented … she didn’t ask for any money,” Strickland said in a livestreamed video posted on social media shortly after the church’s investigation into Cavey was first made public. “She just wanted it to stop and she wanted a way to help other people from it happening to them.”Cavey was put on leave and the church hired an outside investigator. However, it soon became apparent the church was minimizing what Alanna experienced, Alanna and Strickland said.When the investigation results came out, they called it an extramarital relationship that violated the church’s guidelines. But that didn’t accurately capture what Alanna and Strickland say took place: clergy sexual abuse. They pushed for the church to call it what it was. Soon, the church updated the investigation’s findings, saying the sexual relationship “constituted an abuse of Bruxy’s power and authority as a member of the clergy, and amounted to sexual harassment.”The language still wasn’t strong enough, Alanna felt. Strickland resigned as pastor “in solidarity with the victim of abuse.”Cavey was allowed to resign.He and his family have received support from the church, what a Meeting House spokesperson called a “benevolent gift recognizing the impact of these events on the Cavey family as a whole.”“The details of the support given to Mr. Cavey are confidential,” the spokesperson said.Cavey’s fall from grace sparked an institutional introspection that has found widespread allegations of abuse at the hands of church leaders.In March, the church appointed a victim’s advocate, whose mandate was to independently and confidentially receive any allegations of sexual misconduct.The advocate has received 38 “inquiries” representing “allegations, disclosures and concerns relating primarily to clergy sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse,” Jennifer Hryniw, a member of the Meeting House’s overseers board, said at a June church service. These inquiries do not represent 38 distinct misconduct allegations, as some relate to the same allegation. Hryniw apologized for how the church in the past has handled allegations, which were made against at least four pastors, including Cavey. “We’ve also heard stories of brave individuals who have tried to address the culture of immorality in the past and they felt shut down and alienated by the church,” she said.“I can tell you one trend we’ve identified is a skew to prioritizing the care and well-being of offenders over victims … There are multiple stories of victims who felt shamed and rejected by the church while the offender was supported through so-called restoration.”The only path forward for the Meeting House, Strickland said, is full transparency — as discomfiting as it may be for the church.“The whole truth needs to be told or else … not only will there not be healing, but I think there will be further harm,” she said.Morgan Bocknek is a Star journalist, currently assigned to the Investigations Team. She is based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @mobocks

  • It’s Donald Trump vs. the FBI — and America can’t look past the fight, to see the truth
    by Allan Woods – Staff Reporter on August 13, 2022 at 12:10 am

    Democrats see a criminal finally getting what’s coming to him. Republicans see a martyr for the right-wing cause of freedom.The wonder and sadness of an itemized list, released Friday, of records seized from former U.S. president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is that both sides of the American political divide came away with views that are diametrically opposed.The list — part of a search warrant unsealed by a Florida judge — was detailed enough to suggest breaches of a federal law related to espionage and vague enough for Trump’s defenders to conclude that the FBI was engaged in another of its groundless Deep State fishing trips.It revealed that investigators had removed 20 boxes of classified items, including four sets of records marked “Top Secret” — the most sensitive designation in the American classification hierarchy — three marked “Secret” and another three marked “Confidential.”Apart from one item that pertains to the “President of France” and another about the presidential pardon Trump granted to his friend, Roger Stone, we don’t know exactly what was contained in the documents.More importantly, no one has yet explained why the documents were, at once, so sensitive that they necessitated a police raid, yet why the government only chose only to act now — a year and a half after Trump’s removal from the White House.A fuller explanation is presumably contained in the still-sealed affidavit submitted to the judge by investigators to justify the search warrant, which U.S. media are petitioning to be made public.A report from the Washington Post said some documents are believed to contain information about nuclear weapons, while the New York Times reported there were concerns about documents in Trump’s possession with details of “special access programs.”These are among the most closely guarded government secrets, related to sensitive operations, technologies or capabilities — information that is shared on a “need-to-know” basis.Trump no longer needs access to such information as an ex-president, albeit one with barely veiled intentions to see the presidency again in 2024.Writing on his social media accounts Friday, Trump said the documents were “all declassified” and could have been obtained by police “anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago.”“ALL THEY HAD TO DO WAS ASK,” he wrote.Breaches of U.S. laws meant to protect national security can result in serious jail time. The maximum penalty for gathering, transmitting or losing defence documents — covered under the federal Espionage Act — is 10 years in prison.But past instances of officials caught playing fast and loose with sensitive documents have more often tended toward leniency.Former general and CIA director David Petraeus got two years’ probation and a $100,000 fine for sharing classified information with his biographer and lover while former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger paid a $50,000 fine for sneaking classified documents out of the National Archives in his pant leg.The idea of top-secret presidential documents being stored in the confines of a private club — a historic seaside mansion with 58 bedrooms and 33 bathrooms that describes itself as “The Pinnacle of Palm Beach” — is just another strange chapter in the book of oddities marking Trump’s presidency and its aftermath.The more disturbing aspect, however, is that the unprecedented Mar-a-Lago incursion has been met not with pause and soul-searching but with political entrenchment, a doubling down by Democrats and Republicans alike.For partisans, it seems to matter little what Trump had or did not have in his possession, how he should or should not have acted, what crimes he may or may not have committed.His opponents, meanwhile, see in the raid a long-overdue reckoning for a reckless politician who sullied the high office he occupied in a brief, but eventful four-year term.“Just to be clear,” wrote Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman-turned-Trump critic, “we’re here once again because Donald Trump broke the law. Once again.”And rather than reflect on Trump’s long-documented history of being careless with sensitive intelligence and defence information, as well as his perceived fondness for authoritarian rulers such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un and others, Trump’s backers reflexively charge that the FBI probe is aimed at silencing and scuttling America’s right wing.“It’s official. We are now fully immersed in yet another anti-Trump witch hunt,” declared Fox News host Sean Hannity, even before the documents were unsealed.“They never ever seem to find the crime in the case of Donald Trump because one doesn’t exist.”Therein lies the modern American political dilemma. Two sides observing the same situation and drawing polar-opposite conclusions.Maybe the stakes are too high, and the political cleavages too deep, for Democrats to question the sudden, unexplained urgency of an FBI raid — one of the most drastic of investigative police techniques — or for Republicans to question the blind faith they have placed in their often-erratic former leader.Or perhaps the prospect of Trump under attack, under investigation and perhaps under oath in his own future criminal defence is an image as important for rallying Democratic voters to the cause as it is in energizing their Republican counterparts for the next presidential election, which is just two years away.Allan Woods is a Montreal-based staff reporter for the Star. He covers global and national affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @WoodsAllan

  • Lynne Munro, vice-president, promotions and partnerships, Star Media Group, dies at 65
    by Francine Kopun – City Hall Bureau on August 12, 2022 at 9:05 pm

    Lynne Munro stood out in a crowd.It wasn’t just that she was tall and slim and striking, and always dressed fashionably, impeccably, in heels; she was charismatic. Hers was not the kind of charisma that makes you suspicious; Munro had the kind of charisma that leaves you asking: “Who is that woman?”Kindness was her superpower, and it underpinned her greatest successes professionally and privately.Munro was vice-president, promotions and partnerships, Star Media Group, where she started in 2009.She had a wealth of friends and dearly loved her only brother, Scott Munro, and his family. Scott and his family loved her back, moving her from Toronto to their home in Victoria early this year, after she became too ill to live unassisted.Munro, 65, died Aug. 10, of a rare and aggressive form of cancer.“Lynne was truly one of a kind, an incredible person who was dedicated, informed, witty, vibrant and passionate about her work and life,” said Toronto Star publisher and Torstar co-owner Jordan Bitove, in an announcement shared Thursday with employees.“There was no bigger advocate for the Toronto Star than Lynne. Her passing leaves a huge void at the company.”Munro was born in Calgary in 1957 and her family moved to Victoria 10 years later, where she began working at a local radio station while still in high school.After graduation, Munro moved back to Calgary to work in promotions in the broadcast sector, later moving into the newspaper industry, where she worked for many of the biggest media companies in Canada in their day, including the Sun Media Corporation, Southam News, the Pacific Press, Postmedia, CanWest, and most recently, Torstar.She worked for newspapers, including the Victoria Times-Colonist, the National Post, the Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province and Calgary Sun.“I worked with Lynne in newsrooms across the country and she was a good and cheerful friend to all her colleagues across all departments all the time,” said former Toronto Star editor-in-chief Michael Cooke, now retired.“Her brain worked faster and wider than anyone else’s. If invited, Lynne would take someone’s idea and make it better and take no credit. Modesty and decency were her strengths and she made us all better people simply by being in the building.”In 2001, she was appointed national vice-president, promotion, for CanWest Global Communications, which included Southam’s newspapers and the National Post, the Global and CH Television networks, Global’s specialty television networks and joined the Star in 2009, where she developed and greatly expanded the Star’s promotional partnerships in the city, working with clients including MLSE, the Toronto International Auto Show and TIFF, Bitove said. Shannon Hosford, chief marketing officer for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, said Munro was brilliant, collaborative and a tough negotiator. She was always looking for ways to innovate.“She delivered great things for our businesses and our team fell in love with her as a person,” she said.“Not only was she stylish but she had a wicked laugh that made everyone want to laugh.”Said Bitove: “Nothing was too difficult for Lynne. She had a passion for her work, for her team and for the Star. She was a true pro.”Munro loved newsrooms and was as excited when a big story landed as anyone in editorial.“She valued what we do as a news company so much; if you worked with Lynne and you didn’t read the newspaper … that was unfathomable,” said April Andreosso, senior manager sales and client communications, Toronto Star. “You had to know everything that was going on.” Andreosso said Munro excelled at bringing out the best in the people she worked with.“She had a great laugh and could lift the energy and mood of a room when she walked in,” said colleague Brian Cordingley, director, promotions and partnerships, Toronto Star.Cordingley added that, while Munro was the kind of person who captured a lot of attention, she wasn’t self-important and didn’t seek the spotlight.“She never talked about herself because she always wanted to know about other people and what was happening with them,” he said.Munro had a quick wit, strong work ethic and paid keen attention to detail.Close friend Veronica Page remembers that when they worked a promotional golfing event together on a scorching hot day in Victoria, she and Munro drove a cart to every single green to ensure everything was perfect for their high-flying clients.Page was surprised when Munro suddenly asked her to stop the golf cart and jumped out to bring a cold bottle of water to an older volunteer who had mentioned she was thirsty.Munro wasn’t only thinking about her clients. She was thinking of everyone taking part in the event.“I’ll never forget that as long as I live,” said Page. “No matter how big she was, the way she cared for people was incredible. That was her personality.”Munro’s brother said she inherited her work ethic from their father, a business-owner who went into real estate after retiring at 57.“I think her philosophy was, always do the best you can, take the high road and there is a way to get people to respond if you treat them right,” said Munro.“I was proud of my sister.”At Lynne’s request, no service will be held. She asked that those who wish to mark her memory donate to the Toronto Star Children’s Charities.“Lynne’s passing should be a reminder to all of us about how fragile life can be and how we should always live it to the fullest,” said Bitove.“She definitely did.”Francine Kopun is a Toronto-based reporter covering city hall and municipal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @KopunF