Negotiators for the Anglican Church of Canada and the federal government continued in September to refine an agreement that would limit the church?s liability concerning litigation over abuse suffered by native Canadians in government-owned, church-managed boarding schools.
In early October, Public Works Minister Ralph Goodale said the government will introduce a new settlement process this fall. ?We hope to have some proposals to put forward that everybody, but most especially the victims, will regard as a substantial improvement in how we get these cases dealt with and resolved fairly,? he said
A 29-page draft agreement was drawn up two months ago, but the sticking points involve the Anglican church?s level of contribution to a settlement fund and how to compensate natives who claim they lost their culture and languages in the schools, said Anglican General Secretary Jim Boyles.
?We have been working away at the issues still outstanding,? he said in an interview.
Although lawsuits concerning alleged and proven sexual and physical abuse have resulted in some settlements, no court has allowed claims for loss of culture and language to proceed.
Recently, a class action suit was filed by London, Ont. lawyer Russell Raikes claiming $12.5 billion in damages on behalf of all former residential school students. The government has said there are more than 12,000 plaintiffs (not counting Mr. Raikes? suit) represented in 5,000 lawsuits across the country.
The Indian residential schools system, designed to give native children an education, operated from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1970s. The Anglican church ran 26 out of the 80 schools.