As one of the parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), and in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 29, the United Church commits itself to working collaboratively with plaintiffs not included in the Settlement Agreement in order to resolve disputed legal issues. Moderator Jordan Cantwell has issued an open letter on three such issues: the Day Scholars’ class action, the “administrative split” argument that denied compensation to students of certain schools, and the case of students who lived in the Teulon residence. Please note that more detailed information on these issues are available in the letter’s appendix (see Downloads below).
To former day scholars in the Indian Residential School system, plaintiffs affected by the “administrative split,” and former Teulon residents:
As Moderator of The United Church of Canada, I am writing to assure you that as one of the parties that signed the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), the United Church commits itself to working collaboratively with plaintiffs not included in the Settlement Agreement.
We offer you this assurance of our desire to cooperate in resolving at least three identified disputed legal issues expeditiously in order to demonstrate our commitment to honouring The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action—specifically #29.
The United Church of Canada first offered an apology to First Nations Peoples in 1986, and another in 1998 to former residential school students, their families and communities. Each day brings a deeper understanding of all the harms that were wrought on children in the operation of residential schools, and the responsibility to address these harms and build mutually respectful and equitable relationships.
We acknowledge that there are many students who attended United Church affiliated residential schools as day scholars, and the certification of their class action. We realize that daytime students were denied monetary compensation in the 2006 IRSSA. We recognize that day scholars may have also experienced loss of language and culture.
We are glad that Canada has revisited its position and no longer seeks to apply the administrative split argument, at least under certain circumstances.’
We are aware that some who attended schools or residences, like the Teulon Residence, that were not included in the original list of eligible institutions are still seeking eligibility. The United Church of Canada has been and is supportive of the application of the former Teulon students.
For more information on the nature of each of these three issues and the United Church’s role in them, please see the attached appendix.
As Moderator I have named reconciliation and right relations as the top priority for my term (August 2015–July 2018). I am therefore committed to ensuring that our church continues to live up to our commitments. I pray that, as parties to the Settlement Agreement, we will continue to work together to ensure a just resolution for day scholars, for those who may have been caught in the administrative split period of operations and those who lived in the Teulon residence. We are open to listening to all of you.
The Right Reverend Jordan Cantwell