Church representatives to meet with Deputy Prime Minister

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Government and church representatives are scheduled to meet here this week to discuss litigation both face over residential schools.

For the first time, the Primate, Archbishop Michael Peers will represent the church in the discussions. Archdeacon Jim Boyles, the church’s General Secretary who has been the key representative in all discussions to date, will join him, as will Esther Wesley, the national church’s healing co-ordinator and two bishops: Terry Finlay (Toronto) and Don Phillips (Rupert’s Land). The delegation will meet with Deputy Prime Minister Herb Gray.

The meeting is the first since the House of Bishops sent a letter in early May to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien asking him to intervene in stalled negotiations aimed at compensating litigants in lawsuits involving residential schools.

In that letter, the bishops noted their dismay at the lack of progress in the negotiations and warned that the finances — not to mention the healing work — of the church were in peril.

“Those who were abused still wait for justice and the litigation is rapidly draining [our] resources,” the letter stated. “We assure you of our ongoing commitment to our ministry of healing among the indigenous peoples of Canada. We will continue this work as long as we are able, but it is now in jeopardy.”

The Anglican Fellowship of Prayer is circulating an e-mail request for parishes and dioceses to hold prayer vigils to support the discussions.

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