Nunavik pastor charged with sex crimes against a minor

The leader of Ivujivik's evangelical congregation, the Full Gospel Church, faces trial next January in connection with incidents dating back ten years

JANE GEORGE
Nunatsiaq News

PUVIRNITUQ ­ Another religious leader in Nunavik has been charged with sexual offences involving a child.

Lucassie Kanarjuak, 51, was arraigned in Quebec Court Nov. 13 on three separate sex charges ­ sexual interference, incitement to sexual touching and sexual assault.

Kanarjuak is a pastor with Ivujivik's Full Gospel Church, which was burned down last summer under mysterious circumstances. The offences, involving an 11-year-old boy, are alleged to have occurred in this community of 275 residents between April 1987 and March 1990.

Quebec circuit court judge Donald Bissonnette has set January 22 as the trial date.

Under the Criminal Code, Kanarjuak faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. But crown prosecutor Marie-Chantale Brassard said that because the pastor has no previous criminal record, it's likely that a guilty verdict would result in a reduced sentence, probably on the order of 18 months.

Last September, Iyestsiak Simigak, an Anglican deacon from Kangirsuk was jailed for eight months after pleading guilty to charges of sexual exploitation and one count of sexual interference.

In addition to his position as pastor of Ivujivik's Full Gospel congregation, Kanarjuak was known locally for many years as the proprietor of a small store called the Mushroom Shop, so-named for its ever-plentiful stock of canned mushrooms.

The complainant is still living in the community.

Revelations of the charges against the pastor have disturbed worshippers, who are encouraged to follow the evangelical church's strict moral and spiritual teachings.

A member of the Full Gospel Church in Quaqtaq was greatly saddened by news that sex charges were once again being leveled against a man in a position of trust and leadership.

Members of the Full Gospel Church do not drink alcohol, they discourage smoking tobacco they are not permitted to substitute marriage with common-law relationships.

Pastor Russell LeGassick, a spokesman with the Canadian Fellowship of Churches and Ministries, a non-denominational organization to which Full Gospel churches belong, said sexual abuse would not be tolerated by the Full Gospel Church.

"We follow the word of God, and outside the marriage bed, there is to be no sexual activity. Period," LeGassick said.

LeGassick also leads the New Beginnings Full Gospel Church in Lasalle, near Montreal, which often welcomes visiting worshippers from Nunavik.

He said that pastors are only people who can "fall into the snare of the devil." They can also repent and be forgiven, LeGassick said.

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Last updated November 28, 1997
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