According to records uncovered, the Roman Catholic Church wasted millions of funds that were intended to go to residential school survivors on attorneys, administration, a private fundraising firm, and unauthorized loans. A slew of additional discoveries is contained in the documents. They appear to contradict the Catholic Church’s public statements on restitution to survivors.
“There are also a huge number of major accounting errors that are disturbing to Canada,” one document says, a 53-page federal government “factum” outlining evidence in a 2015 court case. The other churches engaged in the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement of 2005 Anglican, United, and Presbyterian did not take part in any of these events. Years ago, they all made the agreed-upon installments in full and without incident.
The Catholic Church was never required to provide legal justification for its activities. On the eve of the lawsuit’s 2015 hearing, Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Neil Gabrielson authorized the church’s contentious buyout plan, and the case was ended.
Survivors’ advocates say they are horrified and that the Catholic Church must be held accountable. “This is terribly, disgustingly disgusting. It’s totally incorrect “said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, head of the University of British Columbia’s Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre in Vancouver and a former Saskatchewan provincial court judge.
On Wednesday, none of the lawyers involved in the 2015 lawsuit could be reached for comment.
An interview request was turned down by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). The CCCB, according to an official, was not a party to the settlement. Individual dioceses and orders established a company to handle the transaction. However, the source stated that the bishops of Canada “are committed to continuing to engage and listen.” She mentioned the “historic delegation” visiting the Vatican in December.
That group intends to request that Pope Francis visit Canada and make an apology for the residential schools, a request originally made some years ago by Indigenous leaders, some bishops, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.