Anglican Church commends work on healing for those abused at native residential schools

OTTAWA (June 6) — The 300-member General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada responded enthusiastically to a report commending further work on the process of healing and reconciliation for former students of Native residential schools.

General Synod, meeting in Ottawa this week, heard a summary of the work done by a Residential Schools Working Group created three years ago by the Anglican Church to address the needs of Aboriginal people who suffered physical, emotional, sexual and cultural abuse in the government-funded schools. Between 1820 and 1969 hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal children were placed in residential schools administered by Christian denominations.

The Residential Schools Working Group recommended to General Synod that its work, which has included the development of educational resources, government submissions and grants for support programs for victims of abuse, continue under the auspices of the church’s Council for Native Ministries, whose members are Native Anglicans.

Angeline Ayoungman, co-chair of the working group, said the church must work to continue the healing which began at the Native Convocation in 1993, when Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, apologized to Aboriginal peoples on behalf of the church.

“We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go before the healing and reconciliation is complete,” said Ms Ayoungman. She said it may take several generations before the impact of residential schools, manifested in high levels of alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide among native communities, can be fully resolved.

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