Faced with the prospect of bankruptcy due to legal costs, the Anglican diocese of Cariboo, in western Canada, voted on October 14 to disband within 12 months.

Representatives of the diocese's 17 parishes, located along the Fraser and Thompson Rivers in north central British Columbia, met in Quesnel from October 13 to 15 to take the unprecedented decision in the face of a string of lawsuits related to abuse more than 30 years ago at St George's School, in Lytton.

David Crawley, Archbishop of the Anglican Province of British Columbia and the Yukon, which includes the Diocese of Cariboo, told ENI that until now no Canadian diocese and—as far as he knew—no Anglican diocese worldwide, had ever gone bankrupt.

St George's was founded by the New England Company, an independent mission agency based in England. It was eventually sold to the Canadian government, with the bishop of Cariboo retaining the right to nominate an Anglican priest as principal.

The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) administered 26 residential schools for indigenous children in various parts of Canada from 1820 until 1969. Hundreds of former students of schools run by the ACC and other churches in co-operation with the federal government have in recent years claimed they were physically or sexually abused by school staff, and have initiated, or announced, legal action against the government and, in some cases, the churches. Often the federal government, sued by former students, has in turn taken legal action against the churches which ran the schools on its behalf.

The general synod of the 800,000-member Anglican Church of Canada has been named in about 1,600 lawsuits filed by former students who attended residential schools established by the federal government and ...

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