Canadian Government minister stunned residential school payments appeal abandoned

Minister stunned appeal abandoned

New Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller is stunned that Ottawa abandoned its appeal of a ruling releasing the Catholic Church from its settlement obligations to residential school survivors.

Miller says he wants to get to the bottom of the ruling, “I am as puzzled as everyone,” he told The Canadian Press in a recent interview.”

“I don’t know what there is to do yet.”

The ruling, handed down by a Saskatchewan judge in July 2015, found a deal had been struck between the federal government and a corporation of Catholic entities.

That deal released the church groups from their remaining obligations within the $79-million worth of payments owed to survivors. The payments came under the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, approved in 2006.

It included a “best efforts” fundraising campaign to generate $25 million. However, the court was told the groups only raised around $3 million since the agreement took effect in 2007.

The church pointed to the “best efforts” clause, saying they’d tried their best. On July 16, 2015, the judge agreed and absolved the church of its legal obligation.

“They didn’t keep their promise. You can’t just say, ‘Oh, we tried. That’s too bad,'” Star Blanket Cree Nation Chief Michael Starr said.

“There is a lot of hate, a lot of anger out there. The church has to work with us. It has to be tangible. Keep your promise.”

Several questions have been raised around why survivors didn’t receive more compensation from the Catholic Church. A key query was why the federal government discontinued its appeal filed not long after the 2015 decision came down.

“I question why that refusal to appeal occurred,” Miller said.

“As everyone, I’m dumbfounded by it. End of the day, the whole point was about compensation.”


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