Revelations that the Catholic Church have spent funds earmarked for residential school survivors elsewhere are disappointing but not surprising to many.
A report by the CBC cites documents that contradict claims the Catholic Church have made publicly about money paid to survivors.
In the 2005 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement the Catholic Church was required to pay $29 million in cash with stringent guidelines for its’ use.
The Catholic Church-unlike other Christian Churches making payments-spent $2.3 million on administration costs, $2.7 million on unapproved legal work, $1.6 million on unverified charitable donations as well as deducting $8 million already paid to survivors before a settlement was reached.
Candace Lloyd from the Nookoom Learning Centre in Napanee says she isn’t surprised by the news, and that it feels like the Catholic Church is trying to wait out the already tired Indigenous people.
“The sad truth is we’re tired, the sad truth is we don’t know how much longer we can keep pushing,” she said.
“And we can only keep going for so long before we say there’s other things that need to be taught, we should be teaching them our language, we should be teaching our culture, about living through the land and being the guardians of the water and the land.”
Lloyd says the Catholic Church needs to accept responsibility and make the payment in full and stop burdening the Indigenous future with the sins of the past, but she doubts they will do so on their own as it would mean admitting they’ve done wrong.
She adds at this point there needs to be third party oversight to that process however, as the Church has at this point lost the trust of the people.
Danka Brewer, candidate for ANR in Shabot Obaadjiwan, agrees that we’ve reached a point where the Church can’t be trusted to do the right thing.
She says the Church needs to be held accountable for heinous crimes that are still having a lasting impact.
“When it came out about all these bodies they said they can’t hold the church accountable, when there were Nazi war crimes even 80 year old men were brought on trial for criminal charges,” she said.
“It should be no different for the church, if they can’t be held accountable for their actions that resulted in the loss of all these children, and now misappropriating these funds… when can they be held responsible?”
It is unclear at this time where this situation might leave the church legally.
The factum referenced by CBC calls for a judge to issue the following orders to the Catholic Church:
-No more expenses can be accumulated or diverted without consent of the government
-Recover all payments made to law firms whose lawyers sat on the board approving payments
-Explain to the court within ten days what constituted the unspecified $2.7 million in legal services
-Direct an investigator to review all administration costs
-Declare that the Catholic Church is in default of its obligations
In the same time period that these payments were supposed to be made, the Catholic Church in Canada has accrued over $300 million dollars in cathedral and church construction costs.