Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A letter from Eliza Stewart to the United Church of Canada

Letter of Demand to the Moderator, the General Council and Officers of The United Church of Canada

May 29, 2009

We, the members of the Stewart family, make this public demand to you, the fiduciary and responsible officers of the United Church of Canada, regarding the murder of our sister, Victoria Kathleen Stewart, who died at the hands of a paid employee of your church, Ann Knizky, on April 10, 1958, at the Edmonton Indian Residential School, operated by your church.

On or about April 9, 1958, Ann Knizky did strike Victoria on the back of the head with a wooden two by four on the grounds of the said school, and this unprovoked attack caused Victoria to die the next day in the Charles Camsell Hospital .

Miss Knizky was never tried for her killing of our sister. We were not allowed to know the events surrounding her death. Your church officers protected Ms.. Knizky and lied about the murder, by claiming publicly that Victoria had died of "TB meningitis". Your church is therefore guilty of colluding in Victoria 's murder and of obstructing justice.

Under the doctrine of Vicarious Liability, established by the Supreme Court of Canada in relation to Indian residential school crimes, you are responsible as an institution for all of the acts of your employees. Thus, you are doubly responsible for this murder.

We are writing this Letter of Demand to you to put you on notice that we hold you collectively and individually responsible and liable for the murder of our sister Victoria and for all of the loss, pain and suffering we have endured as a family because of Victoria 's death.

Prior to possible legal action against you, we therefore notify you through this Letter of our following demands. We call upon you to do the following:

1. Publicly admit to this crime and take unqualified responsibility for it.

2. Come to us and in front of our entire family, issue a public apology for the murder of Victoria , and explain why you colluded in this crime and suppressed knowledge and evidence of it.

3. Identify the whereabouts of Ann Knizky and help bring her to justice to be charged with murder, along with any accomplices or accessories.

4. At your expense, erect a public memorial to Victoria at the site of her murder, and at her gravesite in Kitkatla, B.C.

5. Issue reparation payments to our family, in an amount determined by us.

6. Present yourselves before a Public Commission of Inquiry and a court of law to answer charges of murder and obstruction of justice, not only regarding Victoria but the thousands of other children who died in your Indian residential schools.

Your church is continually speaking of wanting "healing and reconciliation" with residential school survivors. Here is your chance to actually do so. We want justice and accountability, not rhetoric.

You have thirty days as of this date to respond in writing to these demands. If you fail to do so, or fail to grant what we ask, we will proceed with direct actions against you.


(signed in the original)

Eliza Charlotte Stewart

on behalf of the Stewart family and all the relatives of Victoria Kathleen Stewart

c/o The Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared
260 Kennedy St.
Nanaimo, B.C. Canada V9R 2H8

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