Churches urge comprehensive solution to residential schools settlement; "Government's offer is a reasonable first step," says Archdeacon Jim Boyles of the Anglican Church

Reacting to the federal government’s decision to move unilaterally towards a partial solution to resolving claims arising from Indian Residential Schools, church organizations today urged the government to consider a comprehensive solution to the issue.

“While the government’s offer is a reasonable first step, the solution needed is not just about money,” said Archdeacon Jim Boyles, Chair of the Ecumenical Group on Residential Schools. “It’s about bringing justice to individuals harmed and healing to communities affected.”

Church organizations are urging the federal government to return to the negotiating table to consider a full and fair solution that will take into account both the ongoing needs of First Nations communities and the need to find alternative ways for some church organizations to meet their financial obligations.

“Regrettably the government didn’t even want to discuss our proposal. Perhaps it’s time to invite a mediator to get us talking again,” said the Reverend David Iverson of the United Church of Canada. “Former students deserve it, the churches need it, and surely the government has a broader obligation than to simply wash its hands of the matter.”

In the meanwhile, said Iverson, the church organizations affected will continue to participate together with representatives of aboriginal people in the design of alternative resolution processes, pay claims as they are decided by the courts or in settlement agreements, and support programmes that are focused on healing and reconciliation within native communities.

The Ecumenical Group on Indian Residential Schools represents Roman Catholic, Anglican, United and Presbyterian church organizations historically associated with Indian Residential Schools.

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