More than six months after the signing of a Settlement Agreement between the federal government, and the Anglican Church, the author, General Secretary of General Synod, reflects on the involvement of the Anglican Church with indigenous peoples over the past 10 years and enumerates a number of important things that the Church has learned. "We have learned that the abuse of indigenous peoples in the schools, whether physical, sexual, or through a more insidious denial of culture and language, was real, devastating and profound. We have come to understand that current conditions in aboriginal communities with their poverty, unemployment, high suicide rates, drug and alcohol addiction, family dysfunction -- are often rooted in the experiences of the schools." "We have learned that government is often slow, insensitive and ineffective on aboriginal issues." "We have learned first-hand of the complexity, slowness and adversarial nature of the legal system in this country." "We have learned that communications is a key factor in the life of the church". "We have learned that Anglicans are compassionate and generous people". "Finally, we have learned that the church must give priority to ongoing struggle for justice for indigenous people in Canada."
Archdeacon Jim Boyles presented the report of the officers. He reviewed the "for information" items, invited comments/questions and responded to same. Archdeacon Boyles spoke to the section of the report dealing with Residential Schools, in particular with the section addressing four concerns raised by ACIP in its press statement of March 11th.
That the Council of General Synod thank the dioceses and all Anglicans for their support of the Settlement Agreement.
Speaking to the motion, Mr. Todd Russell, disagreed that "all Anglicans" support the agreement and emphasized the need for more communication between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Anglicans. He stressed, however, that the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples fully supports the Primate.
Motion to table
Moved by: Archdeacon Helena-Rose Houldcroft
Seconded by: Canon Grant Hyslop
That the motion be tabled. DEFEATED
The mover and seconder agreed to remove the words "all Anglicans" and add the word "members of the Church". The amended motion now reads:
That the Council of General Synod thank the dioceses and members of the Church for their support of the Settlement Agreement. CARRIED #04-05-03
That the Council of General Synod confirms its adoption by e-mail voting of the following motion:
“That this Council of General Synod authorizes the Primate and the Acting General Secretary or the General Secretary to do all things necessary to give effect to the Agreement in Principle entered into on November 20, 2005 between Canada, as represented by the Hon. Frank Iacobucci, Plaintiffs, as represented by the National Consortium, Merchant Law Group and other legal counsel, The Assembly of First Nations, The General Synod of The Anglican Church of Canada, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, The United Church of Canada and Roman Catholic Entities, and without restricting the generality of the foregoing, authorizes the Primate and the Acting General Secretary or the General Secretary to:
(a) execute all documents necessary to amend the Settlement Agreement entered into on March 11, 2003 between the Government of Canada, The General Synod of The Anglican Church of Canada, The Missionary Society of The Anglican Church of Canada, and The Anglican Church of Canada Resolution Corporation, in accordance with section 8.1 of that Settlement Agreement, so as to incorporate provisions no less favourable than those in any settlement agreement concluded by the Government of Canada with any denomination or church entity other than the Anglican Entities with respect to IRS Abuse Claims arising from Indian Residential Schools, and
(b) instruct legal counsel for the purpose of giving the consent of the Council of General Synod to the certification of any class actions and to the making of any settlement orders required to give effect to any final settlement agreement between the parties to the Agreement in Principle of November 20, 2005.” CARRIED #02-05-06
General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada will continue to work with the federal government on a proposal that addresses abuse claims stemming from the Indian residential school system. While a recent Alberta court decision dismissed lawsuits against General Synod relating to residential school abuse claims in Alberta, General Synod believes it is important to reach a settlement based on moral and financial reasons.
"Given the moral and financial considerations, we believe it is important that we continue to work with the government to negotiate a settlement to address residential school abuse claims," said Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of General Synod.
"We believe a settlement will move us closer to more positive relations between the Church and Indigenous Peoples. Healing and reconciliation continue to be our primary goal and reaching a settlement with the government will help facilitate that," he said.
"As a Church, we have acknowledged our moral obligation regarding our involvement in the residential school system, and we believe it is important to act accordingly. We've said our primary goal in reaching a settlement with the government regarding liability stemming from abuse claims is to enable our work of healing and reconciliation with Aboriginal communities. This goal remains notwithstanding the Alberta Court decision.
We would like to find a way in which the Anglican bodies involved can make a legitimate contribution to settlements and continue to work towards healing and reconciliation with Aboriginal communities".
In addition to the moral obligation, General Synod is concerned that it still faces severe financial challenges as a result of legal costs given that the Alberta Court decision is likely to be appealed by the government and may not be applicable to claims in other provincial jurisdictions. On October 24 , The Honourable Mr. Justice T.F. McMahon of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta dismissed all claims against General Synod based on the finding that it, at no time, had any responsibility or involvement in the management, operations, supervision or staffing of the Residential Schools in Alberta. While the decision did not dismiss claims against the Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of Canada, it did acknowledge that General Synod and the Missionary Society are distinct corporate entities, with neither body bearing liability for the other.
While General Synod welcomed the Alberta Court decision, its legal counsel cautioned that the federal government will likely appeal the decision, and a higher court could overturn the decision. Should higher courts continue to rule in General Synod's favour, General Synod will continue to face considerable legal costs as the matter works its way through the court system. As well, legal counsel has cautioned that the decision may not be considered relevant in other provincial jurisdictions where abuse claims have been filed.
"To date, General Synod has spent a considerable amount on legal costs relating to residential school abuse claims", said Boyles. "A settlement with the government means that funds would be directed to survivors of abuse whose claims have been vindicated, rather than being used up in litigation and for legal costs".
On October 24 , representatives of General Synod presented a draft proposal, developed during nine months of negotiations between General Synod and government representatives, would need ratification by both the Federal Government and the Dioceses that form the Anglican Church of Canada. At present, details of the draft proposal are confidential.
OTTAWA, November 20, 2002 -- An agreement-in-principle has been reached outlining how the Anglican Church and the Government of Canada will participate in compensating former Indian residential school students who suffered sexual and physical abuse. Ralph Goodale, Minister responsible for Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians, and the Most Reverend Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, made the announcement today.
The agreement would provide compensation to former students with validated claims, who attended Anglican Indian residential schools.
"The moral responsibility shown by the Anglican Church in accepting the responsibility to the former students of the Anglican residential schools has opened the door to this agreement-in-principle," says Minister Goodale. "Instead of meeting each other in court, Canada and the Anglican Church can focus our efforts together to settle the thousands of outstanding claims in a more supportive way for victims, who continue to be our first priority."
This agreement-in-principle, when accepted by the Anglican dioceses across Canada, preserves the financial integrity of the Anglican Church, while opening new pathways to closure, healing and reconciliation for all the parties.
"This agreement is part of our commitment to healing and reconciliation within the Anglican Church of Canada and within Canadian society," says Archbishop Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. "I have sat in healing circles and heard the painful stories of abuse. By entering into this agreement, we are saying that we have heard these stories, that we acknowledge our tragic part in them, and that we will take up our new role not only in addressing the abuses of the past, but in seeking a new and life-giving way of living together as native and non-native Canadians, in the church and in society".
The agreement-in-principle between Canada and the Anglican Church will see the Church approach lawsuits for compensation from former students as a whole denomination, involving all the dioceses. The highlights include:
- Payment of 70 per cent by Canada and 30 per cent by the Anglican Church for all validated sexual and physical abuse claims at Anglican Indian residential schools up to a maximum Church contribution of $25 M.
- All Anglican dioceses will be invited to contribute to the payment of compensation.
- The Anglican Church will co-operate in the resolution of Indian residential schools abuse claims, and continue its dedication to the healing of individuals and reconciliation with all parties.
- The Anglican Church will create a separate corporation to establish a Settlement Fund to pay compensation to survivors of sexual and physical abuse.
- The cessation of the practice of naming the Church as a party in court cases or `third partying'.
- The delivery of 100 per cent of compensation to former students of Anglican residential schools with validated claims.
"This agreement with the Anglican Church will help remove barriers to healing for those individuals who have been abused," said Minister Goodale.
The agreement-in-principle, negotiated over the past ten months, must now be ratified by the 30 independent Anglican dioceses across Canada and signed by the federal government.
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Contact: Office of the Minister, Pat Breton, Press Secretary ph: 819-997-8437; Jim Boyles, General Secretary, Anglican Church of Canada, ph: 416-924-9199; Office of the Minister, Jim Embury, Director of Communications, ph: 819-997-5421; Nicole Dakin, Media Relations, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada, ph: 613-996-2609
TORONTO (Dec. 18, 2002) -- An agreement between the Anglican Church and the federal government over liability for Indian Residential Schools will allow the church to continue to serve society and to forge new bonds with native people, the Anglican Primate says.
In a letter to church members posted on the Anglican Church of Canada's Web site, Archbishop Michael Peers says he is "profoundly encouraged" by the way Canadian Anglicans and Anglican dioceses have responded to the agreement.
Under the terms of the agreement, all 30 Anglican dioceses must ratify and agree to contribute $25 million to a settlement fund over a five-year period.
The agreement effectively ends the Anglican Church's involvement in costly litigation that was threatening the future of its national organization.
The text of Archbishop Peers' letter follows:
The past few weeks have marked a watershed in the life of the Anglican Church of Canada. Beginning with the announcement of an agreement with the Government of Canada as to how validated claims of sexual and physical abuse in Indian Residential Schools would be apportioned, we are now in a period of discernment and decision together. In each diocese, a process is, or will be, in place to decide the diocesan response to our national responsibility.
Let me offer some background and interpretation for this time of discernment and decision in dioceses and congregations, and for your own reflection as an Anglican and a member of Christ's body.
From 1820 to 1969, the Anglican Church of Canada was involved in residential schools. In 1911, the first contracts were signed between the Government of Canada and a number of dioceses. In 1921, the Missionary Society of the Church in Canada began to assume those contracts. In the words of the Bishop of Keewatin [David Ashdown], a person with experience of the schools decades ago and a partner in dialogue with many former students, this was not a good system with a few bad people in it, but a deeply flawed system with many good people in it. In 1969 we abandoned participation in the schools, and began to forge a new relationship with aboriginal Canadians that would be rooted in justice, solidarity, and mutuality.
More than twenty years later, former students of the schools began to come forward, alleging abuse at the hands of those in authority in the schools. Those allegations have prompted our church to come to terms with two painful realities. First, our partnership with the government in seeking the assimilation of aboriginal Canadians was itself a profound error. Second, some within the schools used their power to take advantage of the vulnerability of children.
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, defines "remorse" as the discovery that we do not control the telling of our stories -- that we play unflattering and sometimes destructive roles in the stories of others. In the stories of aboriginal Canadians, we hear that our actions were not noble and our impact was not life-saving.
Remorse is hard for us. We did not intend to collaborate in undermining the well being of children. We did not intend to foster a climate in which predators could assault the vulnerable. We did not intend to contribute to a rift between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians. Yet we did all those things.
In 1969, we embraced another way of understanding and telling the story of our relationship with indigenous peoples. Together with them, we began to look for a better way. In the past decades, signs of that better way have begun to emerge. For example, the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples identifies a unique and vital contribution that the churches can make: "Of all the non-governmental institutions in Canadian society, religious institutions have perhaps the greatest potential to foster awareness and understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people".
In November , the Anglican Church of Canada and the Government of Canada reached an agreement on a settlement of validated claims of sexual and physical abuse in schools administered by the Anglican Church. We are asking each diocese to consider the proposed agreement, and to make a financial commitment to the settlement fund. The proposed settlement with the Government of Canada allows us to proceed with integrity along "a better way". We have not evaded our responsibility within the legal structures and systems that our nation has established to deal with such claims. We have acknowledged both our part in the damage that was done and the many good and generous people who -- in a deeply flawed arrangement -- acted humanely. We are involved in significant explorations with the indigenous constituencies of the Anglican Church of Canada as to how we can, together, live up to the potential identified in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
It was "our people" -- people who share with us a faith, and a tradition -- who suffered in the residential schools. In the Anglican Church of Canada, there are whole dioceses in which the majority of our members are aboriginal Canadians. As we continue the hard work of fashioning a church that brings us all together for mission, we can bear witness to the possibility of reconciliation in a nation in which the divide between aboriginal persons and communities and the dominant culture seems to widen with each passing year.
This settlement is not about "getting out" of anything. It is instead a way of getting more deeply into the healing and reconciliation by which we can both strengthen our own common life and extend that life into mission in our own society.
I am profoundly encouraged by the way in which dioceses and their members have begun to address the challenge before us. Several dioceses have already ratified the agreement, and the others have a clear process in mind for coming to a decision. At least four of the dioceses that have ratified the agreement had no formal relationship with any of the schools, and therefore no legal liability. That we recognize both a common "moral liability" and a common vocation to ministry and mission in our society, whether or not we are directly and legally affected by the schools issue, is surely one of the strengths of this Anglican Church of Canada.
In the months and years ahead, I believe we can use that strength to serve our society and all its members. Because we bear witness not only to the deep flaws of our past, but also to the deep need for healing and reconciliation in our present, we are poised to contribute to a crucial process of discernment for a Canadian society in search of a humane future. Because we are entering more deeply into the spirit of partnership between aboriginal and non-aboriginal persons and communities within our church, we are poised to contribute to the emergence of a similar sense of partnership within Canadian society as a whole.
For reasons of our common life, and for reasons of our common mission within Canadian society, I profoundly hope that we will all be able not only to support and contribute to this settlement, but also to celebrate the possibilities it opens up for us all.
Yours faithfully, Michael G. Peers Archbishop and Primate
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Contact: Vianney (Sam) Carriere, Acting Director Communications, 416-924-9199 ext. 306, firstname.lastname@example.org OR Michael Thompson, Principal Secretary to the Primate, 416-924-9199 ext. 277, email@example.com; www.anglican.ca