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Christian Brothers Institutional Abuse Class Action

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Summary

This is a class action lawsuit alleging that students who attended Vancouver College between 1976 and 2013 and St. Thomas More Collegiate between 1976 and 1989 experienced physical, psychological, and sexual abuse by current or former members of the Christian Brothers. The defendants include Vancouver College Limited, St. Thomas More Collegiate Ltd., Gerald Gabriel McHugh, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver (“the institutional defendants”), as well as Edward English, Joseph Burke, Douglas Kenny, and Kevin Short (“the Christian Brother defendants”). The lawsuit alleges that  the institutional defendants failed to adequately protect students from abuse at the schools,  for example, by allowing Christian Brothers with a known history of child abuse to be transferred into teaching positions at the two Vancouver-area Catholic schools.

The claim was certified as a class action by the Supreme Court of British Columbia on March 8, 2023. This means that the action can now proceed as a single lawsuit on behalf of all class members. The court also approved the appointment of Darren Liptrot, a Vancouver College graduate, as the representative plaintiff for the class and our law firm (CFM Lawyers) as counsel for all class members. You are a class member and affected by this class action if you experienced abuse—physically, psychologically or sexually—by a current or former member of the Christian Brothers while enrolled at Vancouver College (1976-2013) or St. Thomas More Collegiate (1976-1989).

In July 2023, Kevin Short was added as a defendant to the case. He is alleged to have physically and sexually abused students during his time at St. Thomas More Collegiate. Since Brother Short was added after certification against the other defendants, Class Counsel will now be applying to the Court to certify the claim against Brother Short on the same basis.

Following the Court’s decision to certify the class action, Class Counsel entered discussions with the institutional defendants about an alternative process to resolve survivors’ claims. The purpose is to explore options for resolving claims in a more trauma informed and expeditious manner than a traditional trial. We are participating on the condition that these discussions occur in parallel to the litigation process and will not delay it – litigation is continuing at full speed.

We have made it clear that any alternative mechanism to resolve the claims must be based on three core principles:

Truth – honest disclosure of what the schools and the Archdiocese knew about abuse by the Christian Brothers at the schools;

Apology – acceptance of responsibility for the harm done, including an apology to class members; and

Restitution – full compensation for the harm experienced by class members.

We read the recent announcements by St. Thomas More and Vancouver College as acceptance of these objectives, and await similar confirmation from the Archdiocese. Any agreement that is reached must be approved by the Court before it can be implemented. The Christian Brother defendants (English, Burke, Kenny, and Short) are not included in these discussions. We intend to continue to litigate the case against those defendants even if we agree on an alternative resolution process with the institutional defendants.

You are not required to take any immediate action to remain part of the class. However, we are your lawyers in this matter so you should feel free to contact us any time if you have questions about the progress of the claim, information you think may help us advance the case for everybody, or want to meet the legal team to discuss your personal experience at the schools. All conversations are confidential and protected by lawyer-client privilege.

You should also preserve any documents that might be relevant to your claim, including photographs, journals, and records of medical treatment or financial losses. If the class action is successful, you may be entitled to financial compensation. You will also have the opportunity to opt-out of this class action if you wish, for any reason, including to bring your own individual lawsuit against the defendants. Further information about the opt-out procedure will be provided to class members once a confidential process is approved by the Court. Additional information about the class action can be found at https://www.christianbrothersclassaction.ca/official-notice.

If you are not sure if you are in the class or if you have any questions about the class action, please contact Class Counsel at:

CFM Lawyers
Attention: Laura Jones or Andrew Johnson
Suite 400 – 856 Homer Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 2W5

Phone: 604-689-7555 or toll-free 1-800-689-2322
Email: [email protected]

Anything you share with Class Counsel is confidential and protected by lawyer-client privilege.

Important Documents:




Christian Brothers Institutional Abuse Class Action - Status Updates:

August 5, 2022

Vancouver College – Certification Application - View

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