A PRIMER ON THE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS AGREEMENT
What it is
An agreement between the Anglican Church and the federal government to end long, complicated court cases by people who claim they were sexually or physically abused at native residential schools. The agreement encourages other processes and creates an Anglican settlement fund to cover the church’s share of compensation (30 per cent) so that people who were hurt can be compensated fairly and more quickly.
Letting complaints work their way through the court system was a long, cumbersome and expensive process that really did not benefit anyone. Most of the money went to litigation costs and very little of it to the people who were harmed. The costs of court cases threatened the future of the General Synod and several dioceses.
How it works
The agreement sets up an Anglican-operated fund to which the General Synod and the dioceses agree to contribute $25 million over the next five years. This is the limit of how much the church will have to pay in these cases. If settlements cost more than that, the government will pay the difference; if they cost less, the money will be returned to the church. The agreement has to be accepted by the General Synod, the federal government, and each of 30 Anglican dioceses in the country.
What it does
For former residential schools students
The agreement ensures that former students who were harmed will be compensated. It encourages a process for them to negotiate their claims without having to go through the courts. And it allows the church, simply by ensuring its survival, to work with them at healing and reconciliation and at forming a new kind of partnership.
For the Anglican Church of Canada
By ending the court cases, the agreement ensures that the national church and the 11 dioceses facing lawsuits will survive and be able to do what the church does best: minister and offer solace to people who were harmed and work at partnerships that will ensure a better future for indigenous and non-indigenous church members. The church has a healing and reconciliation program, called the New Agape, to build on these initiatives. Free of the legal expenses that threatened its future, the church can go on working with native people towards a common and harmonious future.
For the dioceses
As with the General Synod, the agreement limits the amount of money that individual dioceses will have to pay. Every diocese is asked to accept the agreement and to determine for itself how it will find the money to make the payments required of it to the settlement fund. Not all dioceses were being sued, but all dioceses are part of the church and have an interest in the General Synod, in nurturing relationships with native people and in healing and reconciliation.
For Anglicans in the pews
The Anglican Church of Canada is your church. The General Synod is the national embodiment of your church and the diocese is what links the different parishes in your community. The agreement ensures that the General Synod and the programs and services it contributes to your diocese and to your local church will continue to exist. It ensures that dioceses threatened by lawsuits can continue to exist as the local embodiment of the church.
Contributions to the Settlement Fund may be made through your parish or diocese
- More information is available on the General Synod Web site on residential schools at http://anglican.ca/rs/