Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
May 14, 2001
Residential school claims bogged down — Anglicans
Church, dioceses rapidly approaching bankruptcy
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA — The Anglican Church of Canada is calling on Prime Minister Jean Chretien to intervene in stalled talks between Ottawa and the churches that operated Indian residential schools for the federal government.
"Those who were abused still wait for justice and the litigation is rapidly draining (our) resources," say the Anglican bishops of Canada in a May 4 letter to Chretien.
The bishops say more than 99 per cent of its spending to date has been on litigation and less than one per cent on settlements. The general synod, the Anglican Church's governing body, and some dioceses are rapidly approaching bankruptcy.
"Already, the Diocese of Cariboo has taken steps that may lead to its dissolution by October," the bishops noted. "Eight other dioceses are bearing the heavy costs of litigation and some will be facing financial crisis soon."
The general synod has also told the government that its assets will be exhausted before the end of the year.
Last fall, Deputy Prime Minister Herb Gray opened discussions with the four churches on sharing the costs of compensation payments, but he told CCN in February he had no idea when a proposal might be ready for cabinet.
In a covering letter to Chretien, Archbishop Michael Peers, the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said that throughout the past six months the Church has been living with "a sense of expectation, born of our discussions with the deputy prime minister."
But on the other hand, he said, there is "a steadily mounting sense of frustration, born of the lack of any tangible progress toward a just resolution of the residential schools legacy."
More than 7,000 claims have been filed by former residential school students against the federal government and Church organizations seeking damages for alleged abuses.
In the Senate, Senator Douglas Roche has repeatedly called on the government to take action to resolve the dispute.
The government should "move it to the table where all the parties are present," said Roche, founding editor of the WCR.
The Anglican bishops and Roman Catholic organizations complain that the department of justice has been aggressively pursuing litigation while ignoring recommendations they say could settle the claims outside the courts.
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