Keewatin pledges support for schools settlement

The diocese of Keewatin, gathered here for its diocesan council meeting from Nov. 28-30, has become the first diocese in the Anglican Church of Canada to ratify the agreement reached by the church and the federal government limiting the church’s liability over Indian residential schools.

By ratifying the settlement agreement, Keewatin has pledged to contribute $185,000 over five years toward a litigation settlement fund, said diocesan bishop David Ashdown. The federal government and the General Synod, the national office of the Anglican Church of Canada, announced the agreement Nov. 20 at a joint news conference.

Under the agreement, reached after two years of negotiations, the church will contribute $25 million over five years toward a litigation settlement fund; General Synod would contribute $3 million to the fund and the 30 dioceses would contribute $22 million. The six wealthiest dioceses – Toronto, Huron, Ottawa, New Westminster, Niagara and Nova Scotia/Prince Edward Island – are expected to provide the lion’s share of the contributions. Smaller, less affluent dioceses, like Keewatin, are being asked to contribute less. All 30 dioceses are expected to vote on ratification in the next three months.

Keewatin is a largely indigenous diocese straddling the border between northwestern Ontario and much of eastern Manitoba. As a member diocese of the Council of the North, it is financially supported by the rest of the church through the Anglican Appeal.

In other business, Keewatin’s diocesan council was expected to approve the formation of the Dr. William Winter School of Ministry, a community-based program accredited with the College of Emmanuel and St. Chad, a theological school in Saskatoon.

The new school is named for a now-82-year-old priest in the diocese who is credited with spearheading community-based theological education for northern clergy. Archdeacon William Winter, who received an honourary doctorate of divinity from Winnipeg’s St. John’s College in 1991, was responsible for the popular TAIP (originally Train an Indian Priest, now known as Train an Indigenous Priest) program which began in 1972 and trained many indigenous Keewatin clergy. The new school is a follow up to TAIP.

Based in the First Nation community of Kingfisher Lake, Ont., (the home of Archdeacon Winter), the new school’s students will take their training in two-week sessions once a year for four years, said area Archdeacon Larry Beardy. The schooling will take place at a mission house in the nearby Big Beaver camp in the summer and within the community in the winter.

Graduates will receive a diploma in indigenous theology and may seek their bachelor degree in theology, likely through Emmanuel and St. Chad.


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