10 years before strangers came to my home and took me away from my single parent to isolate me to Canaan Land, a previous situation took place involving a sinister stranger from that same church-school.
By the time I was born in 1981, Pastor Keith Johnson‘s abusive system was already established and on a collision course with my life. Saskatoon Christian Centre was infected with his extremism, and sure enough one of my parents was deep into his harmful doctrines. My other parent heard about Keith’s fanatical child-discipline doctrines and said “nope”! That’s where so much of my family’s trauma began.
My one parent would buy a paddle from Keith’s church on Sunday, and the other hunted it down by Monday morning to destroy it before it could get used on me.
It is easy to imagine what the consequences would be when one parent is bamboozled into Keith’s fear tactics while the other parent refuses to let Keith tell them to use a wooden paddle on their small child. My one parent would buy a paddle from Keith’s church on Sunday, and the other hunted it down by Monday morning to destroy it before it could get used on me. When I was age 5, a judge heard about how Keith’s fanatical child-paddling doctrine caused the raging battle in my parents’ relationship since I was born. Divorce and custody rulings eventually placed me with my one parent and only allowed visitation with my other parent on the weekends. On one of those weekends, things went bizarrely wrong…
“Help, strangers are trying to take my children” my panicked parent pleaded to the police one afternoon when I was age 5. A tall male stranger had driven up to our house and accompanied my other parent to take me for visitation weekend, which included Sunday church. Suddenly the stranger was in a physical altercation with my other parent, pushing and shoving each other over me. I’m guessing my parent was as freaked out as I was at that moment when the stranger from the “child-paddling church” drove off with me. That stranger later told a judge that my parent pushed him first, but my panicked parent was the one who called the police for help that day.
My one parent was right to not trust THIS stranger and his harmfully extremist church and school. If the name of that ‘stranger’ sounds familiar, that’s because he turned out to be the notorious Lou Brunelle. He’s pictured here, smugly grinning in Maclean’s magazine as he brandishes the school’s wooden paddle that he used on me and my schoolmates repeatedly in that school office:
The church eventually succeeded in getting me into their school when I was age 9 in 1991. I arrived at Christian Centre Academy to the awful discovery that Brunelle was my new teacher, and the school principal. He was a lot more terrifying now, because this time he threatened, and used, the school paddle on me and my schoolmates. The same month his Maclean’s article came out, I was plucked out of one of his classrooms at age 15 and taken away to Canaan Land.
Still, that’s not the last time ‘truthful’ Brunelle interfered in my life. The next time he did it, he was untruthful to the Ministry of Social Services on my whereabouts at the beginning of the next school year. He signed his name, wrote the date, and stamped the school’s seal on an official form. It stated I was a registered student attending 102 Pinehouse Dr. in Aug 1997. It has my name, but my old address because I had been isolated to Big River since March 1997. This is why he wasn’t able to get my signature on that blank ‘student signature’ line – I wasn’t actually present at that school anymore:
He knew I was isolated in Big River in the Canaan Land program, and he even knew its address so that the school could ship PACEs and score-keys to me. His school had already documented that fact just 5 months prior, in March 1997, when they sent me there:
Plus, when he signed that document in August I was only 5 months into the “voluntary” 1-year program for adults with life-controlling issues. Except I was not an adult, and I was there against my will. I did have life-controlling issues though; my issues were named ‘Lou Brunelle’ and ‘Keith Johnson’, among others, and they controlled every aspect of my life.
I did have life-controlling issues though; my issues were named ‘Lou Brunelle’ and ‘Keith Johnson’, among others, and they controlled every aspect of my life.
A few decades later, Brunelle and that church and school are now co-named in a proposed $25 million class-action lawsuit ranging from child abuse, assault with a weapon, conspiracy to cause harm, and more. He has professional sanctions in which he’s agreed to cease ‘teaching’ in the entire province of Saskatchewan in order to protect the public interest. Dozens of victims, harms, and cover-ups have emerged from that same rebranded church-school, where he was working as its principal again as recently as 2022. In 2022, Lou Brunelle was named in the class-action lawsuit among more than 20 others from there. The arrests and allegations of the church & school’s heinous abuses range from;
- The abuser-in-chief, Keith Johnson, legally declared evader of the Canadian legal system and co-defendant in almost every instance in the $25 million class-action lawsuit.
- Aaron Benneweis – pleaded guilty to sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a minor.
- Ken Schultz, facing trial for sexual assault and assault with a weapon.
- John Olubobokun, facing trial for multiple counts of assault with a weapon.
- Duff Friesen, facing trial for multiple counts of assault with a weapon.
- And sadly more.
I was able to find my long-lost parent after being torn apart from each other by that extremist church for over a decade. Now, despite their best efforts, we have a relationship again. I told them about everything that happened to me at that church, ‘school’, and Canaan Land. They wept. They told me about the church’s involvement in the custody battles to seemingly press their finger on the scales of justice at every turn. Today, I am incredibly thankful to have the loving and profound support of the parent those cult leaders didn’t want me to have. Now, I have a powerful ally on my side as I take my shot at exposing the harm that Brunelle and others caused to me and my family and my schoolmates.