$10M of promised $30M has been raised following questions about past compensation efforts
CBC News: A national Catholic Church reconciliation fund is one-third of the way to its $30-million target.
One church-appointed survivor overseeing the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund said it’s a good start, but other survivors said the church doesn’t appear to be making a serious effort. ” ‘We’ll get there when we get there,’ they might as well say,” survivor Barb Badger said. “If you keep quiet and don’t pursue it, then they’re going to take their time.”
In 2021, CBC News published a series of stories that raised questions about the church’s claim it honoured the $79-million agreement to compensate survivors.
- ‘Where is their soul?’: Inside the failed push to make Catholic Church pay for its residential school abuses
- Catholic Church dedicated nearly $300M for buildings since promising residential school survivors $25M in 2005
Following the stories, Canada’s bishops issued an apology. They also created the reconciliation fund and appointed a group of prominent Indigenous Catholics to oversee grant applications. The goal was to raise $30 million over five years. That fund currently sits at just over $10,051,590.
Board chair Rosella Kinoshameg, herself a survivor, is hopeful they’ll raise the full amount. “I think we’re doing very good. We’re very pleased with the amount that’s been put into the fund,” said Kinoshameg, a registered nurse with governance experience.
To access the money, groups are encouraged to apply for grants. She said nearly two dozen have been given out so far, and hopes others will apply.
The four grant categories are the following:
- healing and reconciliation for communities and families;
- culture and language revitalization;
- education and community building; and
- dialogues for promoting Indigenous spirituality and culture.
- Sask. court file reveals new details of Catholic Church compensation for residential school survivors‘
- I felt in my heart, the Pope really means it’; Sask. residential school survivors react to papal apology
When asked which diocese or region had contributed the most, or whether the donations were largely small individual contributions or larger corporate ones, Kinoshameg said that’s unclear. She said another church accountant handles those details.
No one from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops was available for comment, saying all questions about the fund should go through the fund’s board.
Barb Badger and her husband, Frank, say the Canadian Catholic Church and the Vatican are worth billions. They say the church should pay the full amount immediately, given the immense damage they caused.
“From my first day of residential school, all I heard was negative stuff about Native people — how the Indians scalp the white settlers, how they killed the women and children. They would hit me with a logging chain,” Frank Badger said. “There’s what, 150,000 students that went to residential schools and their children and their children and their children. This isn’t nearly enough.”
The Badgers, who counsel young offenders and others struggling with addiction or loss of culture, said they don’t want any of the money, and neither do any other elderly survivors they know. They say there’s an urgent need for youth programs, and the Catholic Church must do more to stop this “bleeding” that they caused.
They note a reported $70 million was spent on Pope Francis’ recent visit to Canada, including more than $18 million from Canadian Catholic churches alone. In parts of the U.S., abuse compensation amounts are far higher. One diocese in Minnesota was forced to pay 450 clergy abuse victims a total of $210 million.
Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools or by the latest reports.
A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for survivors and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.
Mental health counselling and crisis support is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Hope for Wellness hotline at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Warick, Reporter
Jason Warick is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon.