The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) faces the possibility of bankruptcy, according to a discussion paper being circulated among the church's leaders. The paper, Planning for the Future, states that the national church could face bankruptcy in the light of major court costs and settlements with former students, many of them indigenous Canadians, who allege they were mistreated or abused at residential schools run by the church. Several hundred cases across Canada are at various stages of legal action.

Last year Justice Janice Dillon in the Supreme Court in British Columbia found the ACC general synod and the Anglican Diocese of Cariboo jointly liable to pay 60 percent of an undisclosed amount of damages to a student who was sexually abused 30 years ago at St George's Indian Residential School in Lytton, B.C. The federal government is liable for 40 percent of the damages. That ruling is now having deep ramifications for other cases.

Archdeacon Jim Boyles, the church's general secretary, told Ecumenical News International (ENI): "We have filed notice of an appeal [in the British Columbia case] and are preparing our brief for that. We expect that it might be ready in late spring or early summer. We are not sure when it will be heard."

In the Lytton school situation there are seven other claims that are moving forward in the courts," the archdeacon said. "They may be set for trial in the spring."

He added: "There are a number [of cases] before the courts in southern Saskatchewan that may reach trial by late spring or perhaps next fall. We have about over 300 cases altogether and they involve about 1200 plaintiffs."

Most of the cases have been brought by individuals. But Archdeacon Boyles added: "In some cases there are groups. The ...

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