The Caribou Anglican diocese in British Columbia may become the first church in Canada ever to declare bankruptcy. The diocese will find out during meetings Oct 13-15 when the church will vote on it Archbishop David Crawly blames the Canadian government for dragging the church into residential school lawsuits. Only one of the lawsuits named the church but the federal government cross-sued.
Crawley asked the government to limit the churches’ liability so that all parties could get on with healing and reconciliation with First Nations peoples.
The Anglican church, along with the Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and United Churches apologized Sept. 6, saying, “we are sorry for 500 years of suffering.” This is not the first time the churches have apologized but it is the first time they have done so together. The churches said they were apologizing for wrongs both in the recent and distant past The federal and provincial governments chose not to attend.
Some First Nations peoples said the apology isn’t accepted as far as they are concerned.
Floyd Mowatt, the Gitskan Native who recently won a undisclosed out-of-court settlement from the Caribou diocese and the federal government said he couldn’t care less if the diocese or the entire Anglican church went bankrupt
The larger church is facing problems even though the church has maintained that all dioceses are run as separate legal and corporate entities. The churches national office in Toronto has laid off eight employees and cut $500,000 from its budget in order to fund the cost of fighting residential-school lawsuits.
In Caribou, they are arguing that the church buildings are held in trust for the parishes and shouldn’t be seized. But the future remains uncertain for the churches.
The Anglican church ran about 20 of Canada’s residential schools. The Catholic church ran most of the rest. Other Canadian church bodies facing possible bankruptcy as a result of lawsuits include the Anglican diocese of Qu’Appelle in Saskatchewan, the Catholic diocese of Whitehorse and three Western branches of the Oblate order.