Huron has become the first diocese to launch a fund-raising campaign specifically aimed at meeting legal costs arising from native residential schools lawsuits.
Meeting in London, Ont. last October, the diocesan synod decided on a fund-raising goal of $250,000 – the projected costs facing the diocese in 2002 as a result of being named in five lawsuits related to the Mohawk Institute, a former native boarding school near Brantford, Ont.
“The appeal is an indication of the direction people want to move toward,” said Archdeacon James Dugan, rector of St. Paul’s church, Woodstock, Ont., and spokesman for the diocese on residential schools lawsuits.
Since the first lawsuit was filed three years ago, the diocese has spent about $900,000 on research and legal defence costs, according to diocesan director of administrative services Paul Rathbone. Until now, funds from undesignated bequests have been used for legal expenses. That money is now exhausted and synod considered several proposals to cover future legal costs.
The proposals included reducing the diocese’s annual contribution to General Synod, drawing on designated funds or increasing parish apportionments. Those choices were rejected in favour of the legal defence fund campaign. The movers of the motion, Rev. Douglas Leighton and Rev. Robert Skirving, both of London, Ont., noted that the amount represents one-sixtieth of the $15.5 million raised each year in parish offerings in Huron.
They also noted that the fund-raising approach is consistent with the stance that regular parish givings are not used to pay for lawsuits. With files from Huron Church News