Residential schools negotiations enter new phase

Since May when the federal government appointed retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci to work on Indian residential schools issues, intensive negotiations have been underway involving representatives of government, plaintiffs’ counsel, the Assembly of First Nations and the churches.

Mr. Justice Iacobucci’s mandate is to negotiate a resolution of all the outstanding issues around residential schools, and to make a final report by March 2006.

These negotiations were established following a political agreement signed by the federal government and the AFN which included the possibility of a lump sum payment to all former IRS students, along with continuation of the present alternative dispute resolution process for those former students who have claims of major sexual abuse.

The Anglican Church of Canada has been represented in these negotiations by lawyers John Page and Brian Daly. A second working group on the non-legal issues such as truth-telling, commemoration and healing, includes the Reverend Andrew Wesley and Archdeacon Jim Boyles.

Although the issues are numerous and complex, talks are proceeding. It is expected that Mr. Justice Iacobucci will meet his deadline.

Meanwhile, the Anglican Primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison has been consulting with dioceses on the issue of a partial release. When a former student’s claim is validated, he or she is required to sign a release which prevents them from bringing further legal action against the church or government. The Anglican Church requires a full and final release, but other churches and the government have agreed to accept a partial release, leaving open the possibility of further legal action regarding loss of language and culture.

Archbishop Hutchison has consulted with diocesan bishops and chancellors over the summer on the advisability of moving towards a partial release. However, in light of developments and until the Iacobucci report is made public, the Primate has written the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples reaffirming that their concern about the full release is “still on my agenda” but advising them that he has decided to delay consultations with the dioceses. Once the Iacobucci report is released, he says in the letter, “we will be able to decide how best to proceed.”

For more information contact: Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Synod Consultant for Residential Schools Litigation, Tel: 416 516 9929 Email:[email protected]

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