Representatives of the federal government and the Anglican Church of Canada will officially sign an agreement on residential schools lawsuits, reached last November, at the church’s national office next Tuesday, March 11.
The agreement, announced in Ottawa on Nov. 20, establishes a Settlement Fund to which the church will contribute $25-million and which will be used to compensate former students of residential schools with proven claims of sexual or physical abuse.
It will be formally signed 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Anglican Church’s national office at 600 Jarvis Street in Toronto. It comes into effect on March 15.
Before being signed, the agreement had to be ratified by each of the church’s 30 dioceses. The dioceses also had to agree to commit a total of $22-million over the next five years to a settlement fund. General Synod, the Anglican Church’s national organization, contributed $3-million.
The dioceses concluded the ratification process last month and the goal of $22-million in contributions was met, with most dioceses contributing a percentage of their budget similar to the amount given annually to General Synod. Although the agreement requires the dioceses to pay into the Settlement Fund in quarterly installments over the next five years, several dioceses have said they will pay the full amount immediately.
If compensation amounts to more than $25-million, the federal government will pay the rest. It is less, the extra money will be returned to the dioceses.
Signing on behalf of the church at Tuesday’s ceremony will be Archbishop Michael Peers, the Anglican Primate, and federal Public Works Minister Ralph Goodale, whose portfolio includes responsibility for residential schools resolution.
Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of General Synod and the chief Anglican negotiator during talks with the federal government, said the church wanted to have the signing at its national office so that General Synod staff who have worked under circumstances of extreme uncertainty for the past three years could attend and witness the signing.
Also attending the signing ceremony will be representatives of both the Anglican and government negotiating teams who worked for several years before an agreement was reached.
The Anglican Church was involved, with the federal government, in operating 26 residential schools from the mid-19th century until the 1970s. In 1993, Archbishop Peers formally apologized to native people for the church’s involvement in the schools.
The Anglican Church was named in about 2,200 of more than 12,000 lawsuits launched against the federal government.
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