Bishop Jim Cruickshank of Cariboo told his colleagues that the diocese, financially devastated by residential schools lawsuits, will wind up its affairs by Dec. 31.
In a pastoral letter read in the diocese’s churches on Sept. 23 and 30, he wrote, “we will have reached the point when damages claimed against us exceed our assets.”
The parishes in the diocese have agreed to transfer property to a new entity called the Fraser Basin Property Society and the parishes themselves, to be called the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (of British Columbia) will be administered out of Kelowna, B.C.
Kelowna is the seat of Archbishop David Crawley, metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon. He will take over administrative and pastoral oversight of the parishes from the diocese. The province, which includes the five B.C. dioceses and the diocese of the Yukon, is an administrative entity with no assets that could be the target of lawsuits.
Bishop Cruickshank has announced he will retire on Dec. 31. The diocesan office will lay off one assistant and one secretary.
Cariboo will not be filing for bankruptcy and will continue to exist as a legal entity in order that it may deal with such issues as an appeal of a case stemming from abuse at a residential school in Lytton, B.C. The diocese and the federal Justice Department are also still at odds over the value of Cariboo’s remaining assets. “The government estimate is $5 million; our estimate is $3 million,” said Bishop Cruickshank.