N.W.T. government faces lawsuit over allegations it failed to protect children from sexual abuse

The Northwest Territories government is being sued by two men for the decade of sexual abuse they say they suffered at a former territorial child welfare facility.

Government has 25 days to file its statement of defence

Two men are suing the N.W.T. government for abuses they allege to have suffered while in the government's care between 1989 and 1999 in Inuvik. (Walter Strong/CBC)

Two N.W.T. men are suing the Northwest Territories government for a decade of sexual abuse they say they suffered at a former territorial child welfare facility.

The two men, known as John Doe 15 and John Doe 16, say the abuse took place while they were in care at the Inuvik Child Welfare Centre between 1989 and 1999.

They announced their intention to sue late last year when they made an application to have their names withheld from the public record.

Given the nature of the abuse and the risk of exacerbating "social, psychiatric and other problems they have experienced," the Northwest Territories Supreme Court agreed, and is allowing the men to sue the territorial government under pseudonyms.

Only their lawyers, the judge and the territorial government will ever know their real identities.

In court documents, the men claim the territorial government failed to protect them from harm or properly screen the operator and staff at the facility "whose lack of qualifications was overlooked or ignored."

They also claim child welfare officials, who were supposed to be overseeing the centre, never requested reports from the centre's operator or any of its staff, and failed to regularly visit the facility or interview the children in care there.

Over a ten year period, the men say they were repeatedly molested and raped by their supposed caregivers. One of the men claims a staff member forced him to pose naked for photographs and to engage in sexual acts with other children who were also residents of the centre.

These allegations have not been proven in court and none of the alleged abusers or employees of the centre have been identified.

The men claim they now suffer from substance abuse issues, physical and mental pain and often have flashbacks of the abuse.

The men hired Newfoundland law firm Morris, Martin, Moore to represent them. The firm specializes in representing people who suffered sexual abuse while in government institutions like schools, foster homes and orphanages.

The court documents do not specify how much compensation the men will be asking for.

The lawsuit was filed on May 4. The territorial government has 25 days to submit its statement of defence, starting from the time it receives notice it is being sued.