Government policy shift on residential schools described as a ‘step forward’

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A change in policy on native residential schools claims announced this week by the federal government is an important step forward because it acknowledges the importance of healing and reconciliation and moves in the direction of lump sum payments to all former students of the schools, the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Secretary says.

“For a long time, our primary goal has been healing and reconciliation,” said Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of General Synod. “Healing for those whose lives have been damaged by their residential schools experience and reconciliation between aboriginal and non-aboriginal persons in our church and in society.”

Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan announced this week the appointment of the Hon. Frank Iacobucci as federal representative to work with various groups in resolving native residential schools issues. His mandate is to find ways to resolve claims by former students in a fair and equitable way so that the claimants can move towards healing.

The government also announced the signing of an agreement with the Assembly of First Nations that outlines the basis on which the Assembly and the government can work to resolve claims.

In a letter to Canadian Anglican Bishops, Mr. Boyles said that the announcement does not have an immediate impact on an agreement between the Anglican church and the federal government signed in 2003.

Under that agreement, the government agreed to limit the church’s liability in residential schools litigation to a maximum of $25 million. The church agreed to create a Residential Schools Settlement Fund into which the national church and all dioceses would contribute $25 million over five years. The church agreed to pay 30 per cent of validated claims with the government paying the balance.

Mr. Boyles noted that all dioceses are up to date in meeting their commitments. “We will continue to pay 30 per cent of validated claims for physical and sexual abuse,” Mr. Boyles told the bishops. “If a global settlement is reached, it may remove many of the claims and possibly affect the total amount we will have to contribute to settlements.”

Any money remaining in the Settlement Fund after all claims have been settled will be returned to dioceses on a proportional basis, he said.

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Links:
Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada news release and backgrounder.


For more information, contact Jim Boyles, General Secretary of General Synod, 416 924 9199 ext. 280,[email protected], or Vianney (Sam) Carriere, Director of Communications, 416 924 9199 EXT. 306;[email protected]


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