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B.C. church goes bankrupt

The Story

After years of settling abuse claims, the Anglican Diocese of Cariboo in British Columbia has finally run out of money. It's the first to declare bankruptcy due to residential school settlements, and as of tomorrow it will cease to exist, its buildings taken over by another diocese. In this CBC Television clip, church leaders say the government should take on more of the financial burden -- but the government says churches have more money than they claim.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: Dec. 30, 2001
Guests: Terry Alec, David Crawley, Betty Gore, Duncan Wallace
Host: Ben Chin
Reporter: Hanson Hosein
Duration: 2:51

Did You know?

• The 87-year-old Diocese of Cariboo consisted of 28 congregations and 4,700 people. It was among the smallest and poorest in Canada, which made it more vulnerable to lawsuits from residential school survivors than other dioceses.

• In awarding damages to sexual-abuse survivors in Lytton, B.C., in 1999, the Supreme Court of British Columbia held the Diocese of Cariboo 60 per cent responsible and the government 40 per cent responsible. Four people were each awarded $126,000 in damages.

• When its liabilities outweighed its assets, the diocese had no choice but to declare bankruptcy. The assets were taken over by a trust, the Fraser Basin Property Society, when the government asked for a list of all assets, including paintings and graveyards.

• Ottawa valued the assets at $5 million, but the diocese said when historic sites and graveyards were set aside, the value was closer to $1.5 million.

• In June 2001, Anglican leaders organized a public prayer session on Parliament Hill. They were hoping the action would bring an end to the government's practise of suing the church each time the government received a lawsuit from a former student of an Anglican residential school. The bishop of Ottawa warned at the time: "This federal policy is driving the national body of the Anglican Church and several dioceses into bankruptcy."

• To speed up settlements for claimants, the Anglican Church and Ottawa signed a deal in 2003. Under the plan, the church will pay $25 million into a fund which will cover up to 30 per cent of claims. The federal government will pay the other 70 per cent.

• As of late 2002, the Anglican church was named in about 20 per cent of the 12,000 unsettled claims of abuse in residential schools.


A Lost Heritage: Canada's Residential Schools more