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

Lease agreement signed for Port Alberni oil spill response base

25-year lease agreement is part of a larger expansion plan

Cherry Creek sets water restrictions for summer 2018

Stage One water restrictions are in effect immediately

EDITORIAL: Rezoning would unravel red tape for business in Port Alberni

Harbour Quay is traditionally for tourist and marine-based businesses…

Satellite visitors’ centre opens in Port Alberni Train Station

Chamber of commerce, McLean Mill will share staffing duties in new centre

Alberni Golf Club goes red, white and blue

Corey Nielson led all golfers, carding a gross 71

VIDEO: Sproat Lake hosts annual regatta

2018 Alberni Valley event featured two days of boat racing action

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

Canadian Tire delivers toys to ease kids’ street play pain in B.C. neighbourhood

It’s like Christmas for 11 kids who are supposed to be confined to their yards by strata bylaw

City orders largest Kinder Morgan protest camp to leave

Residents of Camp Cloud near the Trans Mountain work site have 72 hours to leave

14-year-old pilot attempts to break Guinness World Record at B.C. airport

Mohd Shaikhsorab wants to become youngest pilot with fewest hours logged to fly solo

Most Read