On October 13 we will mark as a national church the half way point in our five year commitment to raise money to compensate victims of abuse at Anglican run Indian Residential schools.
It was in March 2003 that the Anglican Church and Federal government signed the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. We committed Anglicans to raise $25million dollars to compensate former students of the Indian Residential Schools whose claims of physical or sexual abuse had been validated.
The Fund has already received just over $15 million dollars. Seven dioceses have paid their commitment in full, and the other 23 are right on target.
As of July, the Diocese of New Westminster had paid $880,000, which is 55 per cent of the total diocesan commitment of $1,600,000. We want to express our thanks to all the faithful donors in the Diocese of New Westminster and to every Anglican across our church who has offered support.
This is an amazing accomplishment that has allowed us to pay out $5.2 million dollars in compensation to approximately 200 victims of abuse. We are aware that efforts in your own and other dioceses continue in fundraising, and we give thanks for all who provide leadership, and all who respond willingly and freely to the various appeals.
Meanwhile, as Anglicans do their part and show leadership in this work, the government continues with its ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) program. There has been heavy criticism in Parliament and elsewhere about the costs of this program, but claimants are being heard, adjudicators are making awards, and the government and churches are contributing.
The government and the Assembly of First Nations have agreed to work towards a lump sum payment to all former students of the schools, in recognition of the systemic damage done to their lives, particularly in the loss of language and culture.
It is too soon yet to know the details of this program or how it might affect our Settlement Agreement. We are monitoring the negotiations being undertaken by Mr. Justice Frank Iacobucci who was appointed by the government to resolve the many issues that are faced. The government continues to struggle with over 12,000 lawsuits, and it is estimated that there are approximately 87,000 former students of the schools still alive.
And meanwhile too, the Anglican Church continues with its on-the-ground healing work, through its 225 indigenous parishes across the country, through a number of urban ministries, and through its national healing fund that last year made grants of just over $350,000 to local groups for healing projects.