30 October 2001
[ACC-NEWS] The following is a statement from the house of bishops in response to the Oct. 29 federal government announcement regarding residential school claim settlements:
The Government of Canada was given responsibility by the British North America Act for aboriginal peoples. The policies our government developed to fulfill this responsibility and their implementation, in which, through the residential schools, our church played a role, have created the difficult situation in which we, as a country, find ourselves. Now, as a nation we need to grasp a dynamic, new vision of reconciliation between aboriginal peoples and other Canadians in which we can all be made whole, in which we honour the human rights of all, and in which we build together a new society of respect and honour.
Our church wants to be part of bringing this vision to reality.
We want to continue to include our experience and skill in our contribution to the healing of those who suffered under these policies, especially those who attended residential schools.
The long existing and growing partnership within our church of aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples provides an environment and network that is invaluable in this work.
We want to meet to the very best of our ability our responsibility to compensate financially those who suffered specific abuse in the schools and we will best be able to do that if we can assure Anglicans that support for bringing this new vision into reality will not be used to pay litigation costs. The prolonged negotiations with the government and the continuing cost of litigation are wearing down both our capacity and our resolve to respond to need. We have to be relieved of this burden if we are to do our part.
We welcome the recent announcement of the government that it will contribute 70% of settlements for validated claims. This indicates to us that the government does indeed desire to provide justice for those who were wronged.
We regard this as a first step toward an agreement that will enable us all to work together at restoring our society.
We call upon Anglicans to pray for those who were wronged and for all involved in this painful issue. We call upon Anglicans to study and implement the healing program entitled, "A New Agape". We call upon all Anglicans to reach across cultural boundaries and build friendships with one another that together we may work for justice and healing, so that we may create a society in which all can find fulfillment and dignity.