TORONTO, Dec. 16, 2003 -- The Anglican Church of Canada's commitment to raising $25-million for a residential schools settlement fund has not changed, despite a British Columbia Court of Appeal ruling that the government is solely responsible for liability arising from abuse at the schools.
In a statement, Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of the Anglican Church's General Synod, said the church will study all the implications of the judgement. He noted that the federal government has 60 days in which to decide if it will appeal the B.C. court decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
He also stressed that throughout the residential schools' negotiations with the government, the chief goal of the Anglican church was to effect healing and reconciliation with former students of the schools who suffered physical and sexual abuse.
The has not changed either, he said.
In a unanimous judgement released last week, the B.C. Court of Appeal allowed an appeal by the United Church against a previous judgment that had assessed liability at 75 per cent against the government and 25 per cent against the church in a case of sexual abuse by a residential school employee.
In overturning that decision, the B.C. court ruled that "the church should not, in this case, have been held liable for the wrongdoings of (the employee) even if there is some merit to be found in the contention that it was, in some degree, his employer".
Archdeacon Boyles noted that the position taken by the courts is what the Anglican church had argued for several years before it reached an agreement with the federal government capping its liability at $25-million earlier this year. That agreement committed the Anglican General Synod and the church's 30 dioceses to collectively raise a $25-million settlement fund over the next five years. Money from this fund will be used to compensate former residential schools students with proven claims, but the government assumes responsibility for all claims after the $25-million fund has been expended. To date, Anglicans have generously contributed more than $7-million to the fund and $1.5 million has been paid to about 60 claimants.
Archdeacon Boyles noted, however, that there is a clause in the Anglican church's agreement that says if the government and another church negotiate terms more favourable to that church than those in the Anglican agreement, then the more favourable terms will apply to the Anglican church as well. He said he would seek further discussions with the government in this regard.
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For more information, please contact: Vianney (Sam) Carriere, Director of Communications, 416-924-9199 ext. 306, email@example.com OR Jim Boyles, General Secretary of General Synod, 416-924-9199 ext. 280, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo consists of an exterior view of the Indian Residential School, founded by Methodist Church in the 1880s, serving North Coast Indians. Located at Port Simpson, just north of Prince Rupert on the B.C. coast. Closed by the United Church in 1948
"Our experiences have been in a global context, with indigenous peoples all over the world. While this report focuses on a particular area in central Canada, it could be applied to many regions in the western hemisphere and would probably find resonance among Aboriginals in the whole earth. While our statements about the history of mission and the imposition of culture may sound negative to the reader, our experience is that hopeful change is taking place." -- Preface.
Contents: Preface / Stan McKay [and] Janet Silman -- Introductory reflections -- Aboriginal traditions, the fur trade and mission -- The era of Indian residential schools -- The transition years: personal accounts -- Aboriginal self-government in the church -- Gospel and culture from an Aboriginal perspective.
Authors "are ministers of the United Church of Canada and on staff at the Dr. Jessie Saulteaux Resource Centre, and Aboriginal learning centre for ministry in Manitoba. Stan McKay is former moderator of the United Church and Janet Silman is a columnist for 'The United Church Observer'." -- back cover.