Church decision on Lytton appeal will follow independent review; payment to plaintiff unaffected

The Anglican Church will seek independent legal advice on whether to appeal a British Columbia Supreme Court ruling, but it has already paid the share of damages requested by the plaintiff’s lawyer.

The judgment held the Government of Canada, the Anglican Diocese of Cariboo, and the General Synod (the church’s national body) jointly liable for abuse which occurred in the early 1970s at a government-run residential school in Lytton, BC.

Archdeacon Jim Boyles, the church’s general secretary, said the amount requested by the plaintiff’s lawyer in that case has been delivered. “We acknowledge the victim was harmed and deserves compensation,” he said, “and we don’t want our disagreement with the federal government to delay his just compensation any further.”

Noting this is the first case involving the Anglican Church to come to trial, Archdeacon Boyles said the judgment will be important in future cases and the church must assess carefully whether it will appeal.

“We had expected that more responsibility would be assigned to the government since it owned the school, funded its operation and was primarily responsible for appointing the principal and staff,” he said.

The judgment also takes “a rather confusing approach in lumping together the General Synod and the Diocese of Cariboo as ‘the church’,” Archdeacon Boyles said. “Failing to distinguish between them is like failing to distinguish between the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia, on the grounds that it’s all ‘the government’.”

Archdeacon Boyles said an independent legal counsel will be retained to review the judgment and advise on whether to pursue an appeal. Meanwhile, the church has filed a notice of appeal within the 30-day time limit set by the court. “Filing the notice preserves our ability to pursue an appeal later if we decide to do so, but does not bind the church to actually proceeding with an appeal,” he said.
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