Bishop Michael Ingham has urged Anglicans in the Diocese of New Westminster to continue contributing to the Honouring Our Commitment campaign and not “down tools” at this point.
The Anglican Church of Canada and the former federal Liberal government, with the participation of First Nations groups, hammered out a new agreement involving the residential schools settlement fund last fall.
If this agreement is honoured by the new federal government elected in January, the amount of money that the Church is obligated to pay into a residential schools settlement fund will be reduced.
However, Bishop Ingham warned at the February meeting of Diocesan Council, that the new agreement hasn’t been put into final form. “If we down tools at this point it will be very hard to pick them up later,” said the bishop.
“We need to keep up the momentum in the final push,” said Linda Robertson of St. Catherine’s,
Three years ago a special Diocesan Synod agreed to pay $1.6 million as its share of a national settlement fund of $25 million. The fund was to pay 30 per cent of the claims of residential school survivors in Anglican-run residential schools.
That settlement had a clause that if the federal government granted more favourable terms to another denomination that had also operated residential schools, the Anglican agreement would be reopened.
An agreement with the Roman Catholic Church last fall had more favourable terms, so negotiations were reopened with the Anglican Church.
It was agreed with the former federal government that the $25 million dollar figure should be reduced to $16 million. That would cut the Diocese of New Westminster’s share from $1.6 million to about $976,000. However before this second Anglican agreement could be signed, the federal government changed.
George Cadman, diocesan Chancellor (chief legal officer) told Diocesan Council last month that he was hopeful the new government will honour what the former government signed in principle.
As of the end of 2005, the campaign had raised $827,000. Campaign expenses have amounted to $142,000, which leaves about $290,000 needed to meet the lower goal and cover campaign expenses – if the federal government accepts it. Otherwise the amount needed will be about another $800,000 plus the expenses.
Campaign expenses have included printed materials, videos and audiotapes, and the services of a fundraising expert to plan and manage the initial stages of the campaign.