06/05/2014 04:45 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:02 EDT

Metis group hired sex offender to work with residential school survivors

OTTAWA - The Metis National Council enlisted a convicted sex offender in 2011 to work with survivors of residential schools, the church-run institutions where children endured physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the council's contract with Norman Hansen of the northern Saskatchewan village of Buffalo Narrows, as well as provincial court records showing his prior sexual assault convictions.

Contacted by phone, Hansen, now 70, declined to talk about his work for the council or his sexual assault convictions. He hung up when asked if the council was aware of his criminal record when it offered him a contract.

Court records show Hansen was convicted of two separate sexual assaults against two women in or around Saskatoon. The first assault took place in February or March of 2003, while the second assault occurred on April 2, 2003.

According to media reports from the trial, Hansen sexually assaulted a woman who got drunk at a hotel bar during a job interview with the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan, a group for which he was once a regional director.

In the other incident, reports say Hansen grabbed and forcibly kissed a waitress at a bar.

He was sentenced to three years in prison in June 2004 and prohibited from owning a variety of weapons, including crossbows and guns, for 10 years.

It's not clear what happened to Hansen after he was convicted. But he resurfaced in December 2011 when he signed a contract with the Metis National Council.

Council vice-president David Chartrand, who signed the contract, said he was not aware of Hansen's criminal record at the time.

Chartrand said he signed the contract in his capacity as the council's finance minister, but was not personally involved in giving Hansen the contract and did not know much about the nature of the job.

He would not have signed the contract had he known of Hansen's past, he added. "If it was something of that nature, I assure you I wouldn't be signing it."

Hansen's job was to help the council commemorate Metis survivors of residential schools, according to a statement of work, which also notes many children lost their language and culture, and suffered physical and emotional abuse.

"The consultant will provide liaison services with Metis survivors and communities to promote the healing, reconciliation and continued commemoration of Metis survivors that attended residential schools," the document says.

Another one of Hansen's duties was to provide videography services during a national Metis survivors' conference held in Saskatoon in March 2012.

The contract paid Hansen $8,000 for work done between December 2011 and March 2013.

According to another document, Hansen's fees were paid for with funding from a Truth and Reconciliation Commission fund established to commemorate the survivors of residential schools.

An official in the office of Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, whose department oversees the fund, called the episode "very troubling."

"Our government has no role in the hiring of contractors linked to this funding," Valcourt spokeswoman Erica Meekes wrote in an email.

"These allegations are very troubling, and (the department) encourages all aboriginal representative organizations to select contractors within an appropriate process and in support of the rights and interests of Aboriginal Peoples."

Hansen was one of 34 people who filed a statement of claim in the Court of Queen's Bench in March 1994 for Metis aboriginal rights and title. One of the lawyers representing him in that case was Clement Chartier, who is now president of the Metis National Council.

Chartier has yet to respond to questions about Hansen's contract.

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