David Jones, chancellor of the Council of General Synod (CoGS), informed council members of a strong possibility that as much as $2.7 million of the funds paid to the Residential Schools Settlement will be returned to the 32 Anglican entities involved-General Synod, the Missionary Corporation and the 30 dioceses. He explained why and led a discussion about what might be done with General Synod’s share once the final financial information is confirmed.
Jones said that when the original settlement was signed in 2002, the 32 Anglican entities were legally obliged to contribute $25 million to the settlement.
The Roman Catholic Church signed an agreement with the Canadian government five years later, in 2007. A “most favoured churches” clause in the Anglican agreement allowed for its terms to be the same as for any later agreements the government made, Jones explained.
The Roman Catholic settlement was for $79 million, and “there had been an agreement that our proportionate share was 19.8572 per cent of theirs. That caused our $25 million number to be reduced to $15,687, 188,” he said. As a result, each of the Anglican entities’ contributions were reduced and recalculated, and some refunds were paid.
Briefing notes outlined where the revised total Anglican amount of $15,687,188 was allocated:
- $6,699,125-already paid for compensation of claims
- $4,023,675 maximum to be contributed by the Settlement Fund to the Anglican Healing and Reconciliation Fund (AHRF) either by In-Kind Services or by cash payments, over a maximum of 10 years, which is expected to be paid in full by the end of 2014
- $4,964,300 maximum, required to be paid to the AHRF-but only by matching 19.8572 per cent of what the Roman Catholics raised over their 7-year “best efforts” campaign
Jones pointed to the possibility of returning funds in the third point. Although $2.2 million had already been paid to the AHRF as was required, the remaining $2. 7 million is held in reserve pending the outcome of the Roman Catholic fundraising campaign. Matching funds from the Anglican funds in reserve would be required only if the Catholic campaign raised more than $11.1 million by September 2014, and as of April 2014, the total was only about $4 million, he explained.
Consequently, the $2.7 million held in reserve could be returned to the 32 Anglican entities, Jones said. He added that he thinks it’s reasonable to assume that would be done in proportion to what each entity had paid into the settlement.
He noted that the 30 dioceses would make their own decisions about the appropriate use of their shares, but CoGS could consider what it might want to do with General Synod’s share of $322,348.
Jones asked CoGS to consider the question of whether the funds should be returned to the General Synod. “On the other hand, General Synod committed the full amount to be paid into the AHRF, and the funds are only not required because of the lack of success of another party [the Roman Catholics] to raise their full ‘best efforts’ amount,” he pointed out. “…Given our relationship with our aboriginal communities, might CoGS decide to contribute the funds to the AHRF in all events?” he asked.
Alternatively, CoGs could redirect the General Synod share to a fund similar to the AHRF but not subject to the same operating constraints, Jones said.
He also noted a question of how some remaining administrative costs of the AHRF might be paid for.
At the suggestion of CoGS prolocutor Harry Huskins, the council applauded in appreciation of the efforts made by Anglican lawyers, particularly Canon Robert Falby, who volunteered their time at the time of the settlement. Huskins also suggested that input and advice from indigenous Anglicans such as the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples would be appropriate as CoGS considers what to do with any remaining funds.
The Rev. Norman Wesley from the diocese of Moosonee, spoke about the devastating impact of Indian Residential Schools on people in his community. “It becomes very fundamental when we see nice problems of money sitting around like this,” he said. “We need to champion a cause within council here, within all the dioceses across Canada and every single parish, that we continue … gestures toward reconciliation,” he said.