UPDATED- Donald Brenner’s ruling instilled courage, tribal group says

Former chief justice Donald Brenner's ruling in the the Alberni Indian residential school case imbued other former students with the courage to seek justice for abuse, NTC president Cliff Atleo says.

Former B.C. chief justice Donald Brenner.

The judge who presided over the landmark court case involving former students who were abused at the Alberni Indian Residential School has died.

Former Chief Justice Donald Brenner died suddenly at his home last Saturday. The married father of two was 64.

Brenner presided over the Blackwater vs. Plint case, which ran from 1998 to 2001.

The trial involved students who attended the Alberni Indian Residential School who sought damages for abuse that took place between the 1940s and 1960s.

The case lifted the dark cloak off of the physical and sexual abuse endured by aboriginal children at the hands of AIRS staff.

“The court case began a process that really was something that needed to happen for healing to begin,” Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president Cliff Atleo said.

Brenner described the Blackwater case on the Vancouver Foundation website as his most difficult while a judge.

“I listened to evidence of physical and sexual abuse that went back many, many years but which involved people who were children at the time,” he said.

“It was difficult hearing these plaintiffs tell their stories,” recalled Brenner, who said he could not fathom that these incidents had happened to young children.

The case lanced old wounds in former students, but it also served as a healing salve.

“It started opening the doors for many of our people to embrace that courage that was demonstrated by the judge in hearing that case,” Atleo said.

In the end Brenner ruled in favour of the students.

His decision was ultimately upheld after being appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The case wasn’t a miracle cure that worked overnight.

Instead, it was like a long-term course of treatment.

“Our people still struggle. Some haven’t yet been able to step forward, but for others some justice was realized because of Justice Donald Brenner’s ruling,” Atleo said.

Brenner graduated from law school in 1970 and was called to the bar in 1971.

He was named to the Supreme Court in 1993 and chief justice in 2000.

After retiring in 2009 he practised dispute resolution with Farris Vaughan Wills & Murphy LLP.

He was born in Toronto, and earned his pilot’s licence at age 17.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Kids help Alberni Aquarium build rockfish luminary for next exhibit

Swimming For Change takes over in time for spring break

One dead, two seriously injured in Hwy 4 crash west of Port Alberni

A man has died following a single-vehicle collision west of Port Alberni… Continue reading

Risk of ‘deadly avalanches’ leads to warning for B.C.’s south coast

Weak layer of snow on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland could trigger an avalanche

Port Alberni council looking at nearly 4% tax increase for 2019

Policing, bridge rehabilitation and impending cruise ship visits all jostling for funding

City of Port Alberni cancels tourist train operations for 2019

Steam train to McLean Mill is out of commission for repairs; city wants to re-examine rail costs

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Federal fisheries minister calls for precautionary approach to fish farming

Government still reviewing Federal Court’s decision on PRV – Wilkinson

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

Most Read