The ecumenical group that was negotiating with the federal government over native residential schools has re-formed to discuss the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process, which aims to speed up claims of abuse at the schools, General Secretary Jim Boyles told Council of General Synod (CoGS).
The group, with representation from the Anglican, Presbyterian, United and Roman Catholic churches, came together in 2000 to seek limits on the churches' liability concerning the operation of boarding schools for natives. The group dissolved in 2002 as the Anglican church, facing more severe financial pressure, elected to negotiate alone.
To provide a faster, less adversarial alternative to the court system for former students with claims of sexual or physical abuse, the government last fall set up a nationwide system of adjudicators and invited applications.
The Anglican church's view "is that we are not involved in the legal sense in ADR but we can be present in a pastoral way and we have just received the first request for participation from a claimant in Saskatchewan," said Archdeacon Boyles.
Todd Russell, co-chair of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), said his council continues to criticize parts of the ADR process, such as the "40-page application, which is intimidating for many of the people we deal with."
Ellie Johnson, director of the church's partnerships department (which includes indigenous ministries), said the ADR process has been slow in starting since "the research in getting documents is taking longer than expected." About 100 applications have been received and "they. are hoping to begin scheduling hearings in April," said Ms. Johnson.
Meanwhile, a CBC radio story in February questioned the amount spent by the federal government on administration of residential school abuse claims compared with actual payouts to claimants. The report said the government has spent more than $200 million in the last three years managing claims through the courts but paid only $38 million in settlements. Ottawa is facing at least 12,000 claims from …