Former student of Christian school asks education minister to close it

Former students of Legacy Christian Academy met with Education Minister Dustin Duncan on Wednesday.

Article content

Pleading for more action after what she and others allege has been decades of abuse, a former student at a Christian school in Saskatoon has directly asked Saskatchewan’s education minister to close the school.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Caitlin Erickson was among three former students of Legacy Christian Academy — once known as Christian Center Academy — who met with Education Minister Dustin Duncan and ministry officials on Wednesday.

Article content

The meeting included the students’ lawyer, Grant Scharfstein. Erickson is the lead plaintiff in a $25-million class action against Legacy Christian Academy and Mile Two Church.

Erickson said the group provided Duncan and deputy minister Donna Johnson specific examples and evidence of their allegations, and she directly asked Duncan to close the school. He did not commit one way or the other, she said.

“We appreciate them meeting with us, but there’s so much that has gone on at that institution. We’re talking about, right now, four decades of abuse victims that have come forward,” Erickson said in an interview.

Advertisement 3

Article content

“I don’t think anybody wants their legacy as the sitting education minister (to be) a fifth decade of abuse victims.”

The ministry confirmed the meeting took place, saying in an email that it was a followup to a meeting between former students and an appointed administrator at Legacy Christian Academy.

“While the Ministry of Education has not been named in the lawsuit, it will continue to monitor this situation as it moves through the legal process,” the province said in a statement.

Education Minister Dustin Duncan.
Education Minister Dustin Duncan. Photo by TROY FLEECE /Regina Leader-Post

It is noted that it has implemented administrators at three schools named in the lawsuit, and that is “enhancing the regulations and oversight of the schools, and fully cooperating with the Advocate for Children and Youth in its investigation into the oversight of Independent Schools in Saskatchewan.”

Advertisement 4

Article content

Erickson said the conversation on Wednesday was one-sided, with former students and their lawyer doing most of the talking.

“They did a lot of listening, which we appreciate, but having that much information about this situation, we were hoping for a little more from them as far as what they’re going to do to prevent this happening in the future,” she said.

Scharfstein said the students have been waiting and called it a step in the right direction.

“I have no doubt (Duncan) heard what we had to say. Can I tell what will come of it? I can’t. I don’t know. But they certainly know what the issues are,” he said.

The former students’ claims are not political, since the “total failure of this ministry” occurred under NDP, Conservative and Saskatchewan Party governments, Scharfstein added.

Advertisement 5

Article content

“We wanted to make it clear there was a total failure to protect these children’s interests, both academically, based on the curriculums being taught and who was teaching, as well as the abuse issues that arose in these schools,” he said.

Saskatoon police have confirmed that a criminal investigation into the allegations is taking place.

Legacy Christian Academy and its parent organization, Mile Two Church, did not respond to a request for comment.

Legacy Christian Academy shares the same building as Mile Two Church, which is located in Saskatoon's Lawson Heights neighborhood.
Legacy Christian Academy shares the same building as Mile Two Church, which is located in Saskatoon’s Lawson Heights neighborhood. Photo by Michelle Berg /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

The class-action lawsuit alleges Legacy Christian Academy, formerly known as Christian Center Academy, and Mile Two Church perpetrated and allowed the spanking of students, fondling of minors by church staff and other physical, psychological and sexual abuse.

Advertisement 6

Article content

It names 21 people as defendants, including former teachers and administrators. The allegations have not been tested in court.

As of Friday, no statements of defense have been filed.

The ministry appointed administrators in late August to oversee Legacy Christian Academy, Grace Christian School in Saskatoon and Regent Christian Academy in Prince Albert.

Duncan revoked Grace Christian School’s permission to operate after the school’s director refused to co-operate with the administrator.

Legacy Christian Academy is classified as a “qualified independent school” operated and owned by a non-profit organization, but receives direct provincial funding. It now has to follow the provincial curriculum, but can offer locally developed courses at the secondary level approved by the education ministry.

Advertisement 7

Article content

In 2020-2021 it received $736,000 in provincial funds.

Caitlin Erickson is one of two lead plaintiffs in a $25 million class action against former staff at Legacy Christian Academy, as well as the school and the church that operates it.
Caitlin Erickson is one of two lead plaintiffs in a $25 million class action against former staff at Legacy Christian Academy, as well as the school and the church that operates it. Photo by Michelle Berg /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

— With StarPhoenix files from Zak Vescera

[email protected]

The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.

Advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.