Catholic groups miss $ 21 million TRC target

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A shortfall of $ 21 million in Catholic fundraising has added another challenge to the task of reconciliation between Canadian churches and Indigenous communities.

As the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report arrived in Ottawa last month, accountants faced the failure of the “Moving Forward Together” campaign.

Catholic organizations, which run more than 60 percent of federally-mandated residential schools, were to raise $ 25 million as part of the final settlement between Indigenous communities, churches, and government to cover damage caused by schools in generations of young Aboriginal Canadians. But the “best efforts” campaign raised only $ 3.7 million.

The four national churches that were party to the agreement settled the final payments in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. As a result of the Catholic fundraising campaign falling over 80 percent of its target, a refund was made to the Anglican Church of Canada in addition to some other adjustments.

As the largest operator of residential schools, Catholics made the largest financial commitment to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation – $ 79 million.

Catholic payments were divided into three parts:

  • $ 29 million in cash, an amount that was then reduced to reflect payments already made in separate lawsuits;
  • $ 25 million in in-kind services over 10 years;
  • $ 25 million to be raised as part of a pan-Canadian “at best” fundraising campaign.

Despite hiring top-level fundraising consultants to lead the Moving Forward Together fundraising campaign, the Catholic campaign never really took off. Although the campaign consultants were successful in raising funds for hospitals and universities, the complex issues of residential schools and national reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada did not lend themselves to conventional fundraising.

“This is not a reflection on this (consulting) company. That was the nature of this campaign, ”Archbishop of Grouard-McLennan, Gerard Pettipas, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops‘ resource person on the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, told the Catholic Register.

“To be honest, maybe the fundraising campaign was causing more animosity at the time than it was going to raise money. It was not a good time for a fundraising campaign, ”said Gerry Kelly, Indigenous issues consultant.

In the final stages of the fundraising campaign, Catholic bishops attempted to fill some of the shortfall with a nationwide bench drive that raised nearly $ 1 million.

With the end of the campaign and the end of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, the lack of Catholic funding resulted in a reduction in the proportion owed by the other three churches.

In November, a check for $ 2.8 million was written to the Anglicans. The Anglican Church of Canada has decided to direct this money to its Anglican Healing and Reconciliation Fund, which manages reconciliation projects in remote Indigenous communities across Canada.

Although the Catholic shortfall means the Presbyterian Church of Canada’s cash payment of $ 1.3 million is slightly more than the proportion of boarding schools it operated, Presbyterians are not getting any of their money back.

“Ultimately, the deal is for the survivors,” Stephen Kendall, senior clerk of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, told the General Assembly.

Of the $ 6.9 million the United Church of Canada pledged, $ 2.2 million was commensurate with the Moving Forward Together campaign. At the time of going to press, it was not known whether The United Church had received a refund or what the church might do with a refund.

Money from the four churches to fund healing and reconciliation programs is now administered by the Legacy of Hope Foundation – successor to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Catholic parties are expected to make another $ 1.2 million contribution to Legacy of Hope this year.


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