With this issue of the Anglican Journal, we begin a new year of publishing, but it is oddly difficult to say farewell to 2005. It was a good year for the Journal. As we marked our 130th anniversary – 130th! – we found that many of our readers and supporters wanted to celebrate with us. Many wrote to share with us what the newspaper has meant to them as Canadian Anglicans. We were able to use some of those notes in the newspaper over the year, but not all. They may all be found on our Web site at anglicanjournal.com/memories. In addition to those messages, though, even more readers voiced their support for the newspaper in notes accompanying their donations to the 2005 Anglican Journal Appeal. Several readers remarked that the Journal provides them with a link to the church beyond their doors; many long-time readers, some of them housebound, pointed out that the newspaper is their only remaining contact with the church.
But that is not where our readers’ generosity ended. In addition to sharing with us their thoughts about and memories of the Journal, many readers – more than ever before in the history of the Anglican Journal Appeal – have also helped out the newspaper financially.
While it is too early for an end-of-the-year total, it is certain that the Journal Appeal has realized record returns in 2005. We cannot overstate how crucial these donations are to the operations of the Journal. We also hope that in the coming months, we will be able to report back to readers how the appeal’s success has translated into changes and improvements in the newspaper’s operations.
That success, though, came at a cost to some of our donors. The unprecedented volume of donations made it difficult for us to issue receipts immediately; similarly, we did not account for the growing number of readers who donated online when we sent out reminder letters about the appeal in November. Due to a lack of resources – and to keep administrative costs down – the Journal has only one staff person entering donation information into our computer system. We do, however, realize that donations should be acknowledged in a timely manner and the concerns raised by readers have given us the opportunity to examine our appeal, identify problems and make improvements to next year’s campaign.
To those donors who were concerned about not receiving receipts, you should have received a receipt by the end of December or early January. To those donors who received reminder letters and were worried that we did not receive your donation (made online or by mail), please be patient with us.
For now, though, we can think of no other more appropriate response than “Sorry, and thank you.” Your donations make a difference.
The start of a new year also brings with it the hope of new beginnings. Elsewhere in this newspaper is the story of a new deal for former students of native residential schools and another story that is, perhaps, the beginning of the end of a sad tale of an abusive priest and the legacy of that abuse in one native community.
After years of contentious negotiations and litigation, the federal government has finally reached an agreement with the churches and the Assembly of First Nations to compensate tens of thousands of aboriginal Canadians who attended 80 boarding schools run by churches from the mid-19th century into the 1970s. In recent years, hundreds of natives sued the church and the federal government, which owned the schools, alleging physical and sexual abuse.
Some former students will undoubtedly eschew the government settlement, preferring to forge ahead with litigation. Many native people are still angry about the schools and what they did to peoples’ spirits, their culture and their family lives. Though they may not find what they are looking for in the court systems, it is, of course, their right to litigate. Others, though, who want only to move on in their lives, can take the settlement offer for what it is – a recognition that a wrong was done to many of them – and perhaps use the money as an investment in their future.
And in another story, the people of the North Caribou Lake First Nation, who live at Weagamow Lake in northwestern Ontario, have a chance at healing now that a stark reminder of abuse by a former priest, Ralph Rowe, is gone. The Old Anglican Mission House was just one place where some of the community’s young men said they were abused. In 1994, Mr. Rowe pled guilty to sexually abusing 16 boys between 1976 and 1981; he was convicted on 27 counts of indecent assault and one count of common assault and sentenced to six years in prison. Recognizing that the building was a painful reminder of the damage done, the bishop of Keewatin permitted the derelict building to be burnt down in November.
A symbol of evil for some, the disused building will not likely be missed by the community. It is a compassionate end to a painful point in the community’s and the church’s history.