Negotiations between the Anglican church and the federal government over the residential schools crisis continued this summer, with “resolution on many aspects of an eventual draft agreement,” according to General Synod’s General Secretary, Archdeacon Jim Boyles. “There is a real sense of optimism” about the talks, said Cindy Clegg, a spokesperson for the federal Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution. “It is clear from the progress that has been made that both parties want an agreement, as it would facilitate resolution of claims,” Archdeacon Boyles wrote in an update on the talks dated July 18. The update was distributed to staff at General Synod, the church?s national office in Toronto, and posted on the church’s Web site (www.anglican.ca). It will be distributed nationally with the fall edition of MinistryMatters. In related news, Prime Minister Jean Chretien appointed Ralph Goodale, minister of public works and government services, as the minister overseeing the Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution. He succeeds Deputy Prime Minister John Manley who recently assumed the finance portfolio. Mr. Goodale also represents the interests of Metis and non-status Indians in Cabinet, and has experience with native issues, said Ms. Clegg. As of last March, the Anglican church faced 1,350 claims relating to proven and alleged abuse that occurred in government-owned, Anglican-run boarding schools for native children. The residential schools operated from the mid-19th century to the 1970s. The church seeks a cap on its liability, since potential damages facing the church could be as high as $300 million. For the first six months of 2002, the Anglican General Synod’s legal and research costs related to residential schools was $596,000, said Archdeacon Boyles. The national office continues to draw on assets for legal costs, while ongoing contributions from church members support existing programs. General Synod officials have said the national church could run out of funds due to the cost of legal defence. Eleven of 29 dioceses are also being sued. One diocese, Cariboo, suspended operations last October due to financial pressure. The Anglican church and negotiators from the Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution have met 11 times since January, after a negotiating group representing the four churches involved in the schools – Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and United – disbanded. Church-government negotiations began in the fall of 2000. Another meeting was scheduled for August 14-15, said Archdeacon Boyles. Anglicans have also been represented on an advisory group that is working with the government to facilitate an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process, which seeks to process claims outside the courts. However, church and government disagree on who will pay for ADR. “The government has insisted that the churches contribute 30 per cent of the costs – the church is concerned that it cannot meet these costs within its existing financial resources,” Archdeacon Boyles wrote in the update. In an effort to speed the work of healing and reconciliation with native peoples, General Synod will be distributing to parishes this fall information kits on A New Agape, a plan adopted last year that commits the church to a new partnership with natives in Canada.