Church Did Not ‘weasel’ out of Residential School Settlement
By Michael Swan
April 27, 2016
A $21-million shortfall on a $25-million fundraising campaign was a fiasco, but it wasn’t an attempt to weasel out of the legal or moral obligations Catholics have in the wake of the residential schools tragedy, Grouard-McLennan Archibishop Gerard Pettipas told The Catholic Register.
This newspaper first reported the shortfall in January of this year, but a Globe and Mail report that hit the front page April 19 has raised accusations that the 50 Catholic organizations party to the 2006 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement used legal trickery to sidestep their obligations.
“It isn’t accurate,” said Pettipas, who chairs the board of 50 Catholic Entities who are party to the settlement. “There was a cash contribution.
There was in-kind payment. There was a best-efforts campaign. We did all those. There wasn’t any weaselling out.”
As the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was pending last year there was a disagreement between the federal government and Catholic lawyers over whether or not the Catholic Entities had fully paid the last $16.6 million of $29 million owing in cash contributions to healing programs that would be run by First Nations organizations. The government contended the Catholic entities had paid $15 million and still owed a final $1.6 million.