Historic Agreement Between Anglican Church and Government of Canada Seeks Settlements with Abuse Victims

Ralph Goodale, Minister responsible for Indian Residential Schools Resolution, and leaders of the Anglican Church from across Canada today ratified an agreement that details the payment of compensation to victims with valid claims of sexual and physical abuse at Anglican-run residential schools. The signing follows approval of the agreement-in-principle by all thirty dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Under the agreement, the Government of Canada will pay 70% of the compensation and the Anglican Church of Canada will pay 30%, to a maximum of $25M. At the same time, the two parties will work together to turn the current tide of litigation toward settlements with victims, and towards healing and reconciliation.

“Together, the Government of Canada and the Anglican Church have built a platform for a strong, productive relationship with a commitment to the victims of abuse to try to bring an end to the personal suffering,” said Minister Goodale. “We have resolved our issues and defined our roles and responsibilities in making sure that these individuals receive 100% of the compensation they are owed.”

Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, expressed gratitude to all involved in the negotiating process. “The negotiators for the church and government have helped us find a way forward, both in response to the individual cases in which persons were abused, and in our common concern for a new future together as aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians.”

Archbishop Peers expressed gratitude to the dioceses and their leaders for their timely and generous response. “To commit such significant amounts of money to this agreement is costly for our dioceses. Without that response, we would not be able to move forward in a mission that includes a renewed relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians, both in the church and in the country as a whole.”

Nearly 12,000 claims for compensation are registered by former students of native residential schools against the government and the four churches that operated the schools. The Anglican Church is currently named in approximately 18% of the compensation claims.

The highlights of the agreement include:

  • Payment of 70 per cent by the Government of Canada and 30 per cent by the Anglican Church for all validated sexual and physical abuse claims at Anglican-run Indian residential schools up to a maximum Church contribution of $25M.
  • All Anglican dioceses will contribute to the payment of compensation.
  • The Anglican Church will continue its dedication to the healing of individuals and reconciliation with all parties and will cooperate in the resolution of all abuse claims.
  • The Anglican Church has created a separate corporation to establish a Settlement Fund to compensate survivors of sexual and physical abuse.
  • The cessation of the practice of naming the Church as a party in court  cases or “third-partying”.
  • The delivery of 100 per cent of compensation to former students of Anglican-run residential schools with validated claims.

This agreement does not cover compensation for language and culture claims. Both the Government of Canada and the Anglican Church feel that individual compensation is not the answer to a broader community and inter-generational concern. In December 2002, the Government of Canada announced a
dedicated $172.5M in funding to preserve, revitalize and promote Aboriginal languages and cultures. It is to be used to address issues such as the loss of knowledge of traditional languages and cultures by Aboriginal peoples, including those who attended Indian residential schools.



Indian Residential Schools
The Indian residential school system predates Confederation; and in part grew out of Canada’s missionary experience with various religious organizations. The schools were located in every province and territory, except Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Of the 130 schools that existed over time, it is estimated that up to 100 of these schools could be involved in claims. The Government of Canada operated nearly every school as a “joint venture” with various religious organizations. Most residential schools ceased to operate by the mid-1970s; the last federally-run residential school in Canada closed in 1996.

While it is not uncommon to hear some former students speak about the positive experience and the many dedicated staff in these institutions, their stories are overshadowed by disclosures of abuse, criminal convictions of perpetrators and the findings of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, which tell of the tragic legacy that the residential school system has left with many former students.

In addition to allegations of sexual and physical abuse, which are found in 90 per cent of the legal claims, allegations relating to issues such as cultural loss are also being advanced.

Now, nearly 12,000 individuals have made claims for compensation against the government. Seventy per cent of claimants have also named a church institution in addition to the government. To date, there have been over 630 settlements and 11 court judgements.

It is estimated there are 90,000 people alive today who attended residential schools.

Church Negotiations
Formal negotiations took place between July and September 2001 between the Government of Canada and four major Church organizations (Catholic, Anglican, United and Presbyterian) concerning their shared responsibility for claims of sexual and physical abuse by former residential school students. The parties were working toward a solution for sharing the payment of compensation
to individuals with validated sexual and physical abuse claims at Indian residential schools.

In an effort to speed up the settlement of abuse claims with former students, the government announced on October 29, 2001, that it would offer 70 per cent of agreed-upon compensation for validated claims of abuse in instances where both the federal government and a church organization were involved in the operation of the school.

The Government of Canada began meeting bi-laterally with the Anglican Church of Canada in December 2001. The Ecumenical Group that included the other three churches announced on February 4, 2002, that it was disbanding because there was no longer a basis for ecumenical negotiations with the federal government to resolve the legacy of Indian residential schools.

Canada/Anglican Church Apportionment Agreement – Features

The agreement between the Government of Canada and the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada comprises three components: the Settlement Agreement, the Contribution and Cooperation Agreement and the General Synod Support Agreement.

Collectively, the three parts establish: apportionment of liability between the Anglican Church of Canada and the government for abuse claims; processes for the validation and resolution of abuse claims; and procedures as between the Anglican Church and the government for the defence and payment of claims for alleged loss of culture and language.

Apportionment of Abuse Compensation
Under the terms of the agreement, the Anglican Church of Canada will pay 30 per cent of compensation for validated abuse claims where church and government share liability, up to a maximum of $25M. Canada will continue to pay 70 per cent of compensation of these claims, consistent with its  announcement issued in October 2001.

Once it has contributed $25M, the Anglican Church will be indemnified for all future sexual and physical abuse claims, if any, and Canada will pay 100 per cent of compensation of any future claims. The Anglican Church will continue to be committed to the cooperative solution of abuse claims.This is a “whole church” settlement. Those nineteen dioceses not named in litigation, would contribute a significant share of the Anglican Settlement Fund. All dioceses named in litigation would be obligated to share documents and cooperate with government in joint defences. The agreement has been ratified by the 30 Anglican dioceses in Canada.

The Settlement Fund
The Anglican Church will create an arms length corporation to pay compensation for abuse claims.

Third Partying
In the past where a former student had not named a church organization in his or her claim, yet there was solid historical and legal evidence to indicate that a church organization or church employee played a role on the alleged abuse that took place, the federal government would take steps to involve the relevant church entity (third partying). Both the federal government and the Anglican Church will end third party and cross-claim actions related to abuse claims. This is possible because both parties, via the agreement, have pledged to assume their respective financial responsibilities to abuse victims.

Settling Claims in Dispute Resolution and at Trial
The Anglican Church may participate in the resolution of claims in both dispute resolution and at trial at its own cost, but will generally opt to have the federal government lead the defence of claims. At trial, counsel will work together to prepare arguments, but parties will not be prohibited from launching separate defence arguments.

Loss of Language and Culture Claims
The loss of language and culture claims are not recognized by the courts.

Both parties will defend against any such actions.

Resolution of disputes within the Agreement
Any disputes that arise between the parties will be referred to an Implementation Steering Committee, consisting of one member each from church and government. The Committee will endeavour to work in good faith to resolve issues privately and by manner of consensus. If a consensus cannot be reached, the Committee may elect to engage in mediation.

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