Date set for Native school trial

By on May 1, 1998

A May 25-June 12 trial date in Vancouver has been set for one of three current lawsuits involving the Anglican Church of Canada and Native residential schools.

The lawsuit against the national church, the Diocese of Cariboo, the federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, and Derek Clarke, a former dormitory supervisor at St. George’s Residence in Lytton, B.C., was launched by Floyd Mowatt who lived at the residence from 1965 to 1977.

Mr. Mowatt, 37, is alleging he was sexually assaulted by the former dormitory supervisor on a number of occasions between 1965 and 1970. He claims the church failed to investigate Mr. Clarke’s background – a man who was convicted of sexual assault in 1988.

In Brantford, Ont., a similar lawsuit has been brought against the church and the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs by a former student at Mohawk Institute. The former student claims he was repeatedly physically, sexually and emotionally assaulted by staff after he was removed to the institute from his home on Mud Lake Reserve near Peterborough in 1953.

The church is fighting both these cases arguing the two institutions were run by the federal government, not by the church.

The national church’s general secretary, Archdeacon Jim Boyles, says both institutions began as agencies of the New England Company and their administration was later transferred to the Department of Indian Affairs. (The New England Company was founded by Oliver Cromwell in 1649 to take Christianity to Native people in British colonies.)

The church argues the Lytton school was owned and operated by The New England Company until the 1920s when it was agreed it would be operated by the government with an Anglican cleric as principal and Anglican doctrine in the curriculum.

Archdeacon Boyles says a third lawsuit involving St. Michael’s School in Alert Bay, B.C. has a “different status and we are researching that at the moment.” This school, he says, was operated by the federal government in co-operation with the missionary society of the Anglican Church of Canada.

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