Magazine article Anglican Journal

Church Invited to Join in ADR Process: General Synod Looks at Legal Release

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Church Invited to Join in ADR Process: General Synod Looks at Legal Release

Article excerpt

The government of Canada's alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process for former students of Indian residential schools is well underway, and the Anglican Church of Canada has been asked to attend three hearings, said the church's general secretary, Archdeacon Jim Boyles.

"We've been asked to have a church representative present at two ADRs in Saskatchewan and one in Hazelton (B.C.). They involve students who attended Anglican schools. Usually, someone from the local diocese would attend in a supportive role, to listen, to express the church's concern for the person and for the search for justice and fairness," he said in an interview. The church representative does not participate in validating claims, Mr. Boyles added.

Archdeacon Michael Averyt, of the diocese of Saskatchewan, represented the church at one ADR in Prince Albert, Sask., and one in Saskatoon, both involving claims of abuse at the All Saints school.

"It's not comfortable" for a church person, he said, speaking in general terms about the closed proceedings. "Your heart hurts horribly to hear it. You feel compassion for the person and sadness and shame where people (in the church) missed their chance to be instruments of healing. The issues are very complex."

In one proceeding, he was not asked to speak, but at the other, he was. "I reiterated what the primate said in the apology, that I was sorry the church was a part of a system where such things could happen and that I hoped for reconciliation and healing," he said. (In 1993, then-primate Archbishop Michael Peers offered the church's apology for its involvement in the residential school system.)

As of September 2004, more than 12,400 individuals had filed damage claims against the federal government alleging physical or sexual abuse experienced in a nationwide boarding school system for aboriginal children that existed from the 19th century through the 1960s. The schools were operated by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, United and Presbyterian churches.

The ADR process, which began in November, 2003, was meant to provide a less confrontational setting than open court for former students to make their claims. …

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