From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Canadian Anglican Healing fund gets boost from Lutheran insurers

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Fri, 14 Dec 2001 15:52:33 -0800

Healing fund gets boost from Lutheran insurers
Nearly $1 million has gone to projects since 1992

Solange De Santis
Staff Writer, Anglican Journal

The Anglican Church of Canada's 10-year-old healing fund, established to
address social and personal problems of native Canadians, has received a
$50,000 grant from the Lutheran Life Insurance Society of Canada.

The grant represents a significant amount for the fund, which as of
mid-November, had distributed about $145,000 to 14 projects this year.
Since it was established in 1992, 97 projects have been funded to the tune
of about $964,000.

  "Lutheran Life agrees it would be very appropriate if our grant could be
put to use ... (toward) your church's first priority right now: healing and
reconciliation work in the light of the legacy of residential schools,"
wrote James R. Widdecombe, vice president of communication, to General
Synod's Partnerships director Eleanor Johnson.

Lutheran Life, based in Waterloo, Ont. announced the grant last July, when
the Anglican church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada endorsed
"full communion" -- a new, closer relationship.

While some indigenous Canadians say the now-closed residential schools
provided a good education, many have said that their experiences in the
system robbed them of culture, language and family ties. Hundreds are suing
the churches and the federal government, alleging physical and sexual abuse.

The Anglican church, under contract to the government, managed 26 of 80
residential schools across the country.

Among grants distributed by the healing fund this year are $9,500 to elders
of the Kashechewan First Nation in Kashechewan, Ont. on the west coast of
James Bay to enable them to attend a meeting of former residential schools
students. It was the first conference for those who had attended the Moose
Fort and Horden Hall residential schools.

Another grant, of $21,000, went to the Surrey Aboriginal Cultural Society
in Surrey, B.C. for three programs aimed at reconnecting aboriginal people
to their culture and heritage. The largest grant, $30,940, went to the
Missanabie First Nation in Garden River, Ont. near Sault Ste.Marie to hire
a family support worker who will develop a healing strategy for residential
school survivors.

Reports on the effects of the residential school experience point to family
breakdown, alcohol and drug abuse.

An essential part of the healing process often involves sharing experiences
with other school survivors and with members of the wider community, said
Esther Wesley, indigenous healing fund coordinator for General Synod, in an

"It helps to get it out of your system," she said. "Lots of people have
never told their stories. Especially in the case of sexual abuse, you need
to find someone you can trust to talk to, then you can go on with life."

The first healing grants - totalling $250,000 - were approved by the
National Executive Council, the precursor to today's Council of General
Synod, in December, 1991.

The vote followed a meeting earlier that year where council members for the
first time listened to the stories of two residential school survivors and
recommended that the church ask native people for forgiveness and support
healing. In 1993, the primate, Archbishop Michael Peers, apologized for
harm done to natives who attended Anglican boarding schools.

Last March, Mrs. Wesley became the healing fund's first full-time manager.
Previously, it was administered as part of the work of indigenous
ministries coordinator Donna Bomberry.

The fund has not had the resources to promote its work, so groups usually
hear of it by word of mouth from other groups inside and outside the
church, said Mrs. Wesley.

She responds to inquiries with an application form and a copy of the
primate's 1993 apology, she said. The word is getting out, she added,
noting that so far this year, for the first time, total monetary requests
outstripped the amount available.

"We received 23 proposals and turned down seven. Some didn't quite meet the
criteria (for grants). When I tallied up the total of the 23, it was
$250,000, but I only had $130,000 (to distribute)," she said.

The criteria are that projects involve aboriginal people at the grassroots
level and include a plan for reporting results.

A total of $300,000 was available in 2001, but $100,000 goes directly to
dioceses for local healing projects, she said.

Mrs. Wesley, 52, is an Oji-Cree who grew up in the small community of
Sachigo Lake in northern Ontario. She did not attend residential school but
her 10 brothers and sisters did, often all year. "One of my sisters I never
met until I was 13 years old. To this day she is more of a stranger to me,"
she recalled.

To this day two of her siblings "will not set foot in a church," she said.

"My father used to say he lost all his children, but because it was the
system, he had no choice and as a leader he had to go with it," she said.

Mrs. Wesley's father, Rev. Alex Barkman, was an Anglican priest who was
also a home builder and fur trapper.

Although she did not attend school until the age of eight, her father would
bring a load of books for her to study when the family made winter camp on
the traplines, she said. Mrs. Wesley went on to attend the University of
Alberta and pursued a career as a teacher.

In addition to her work processing applications and disbursing grants, she
is trying to determine whether people are actually being healed by the
various projects.

"I have asked myself that. We are starting to follow up, even going back to
1992," she said, noting that previous staff didn't have the time to do
this. She also noted that the process is still young. Although the fund was
established 10 years ago, many former students are just starting to tell
their stories.

Native Canadians are seeing the effects of residential schools moving
through generations. Children who were institutionalized had difficulty
learning how to be good parents and their children, in turn, are feeling
the effects, Mrs. Wesley noted. Anglican families in native communities are
often split between those loyal to the church and those hostile to it, she

The healing fund is financed from General Synod revenues, but donations
have been picking up recently, she said. The Lutheran Life grant is a major
example, but at General Synod last July, a group of black Anglicans from
the diocese of Toronto made a $4,000 donation. Donations from parishes,
dioceses and individuals totalled about $26,000 in 2001, she said.

"One parish in Bobcaygeon (Ont.) keeps sending in money every few months.
The diocese of Toronto also (contributes). Individuals send in money from
$5 on up. I respond to every one," she said.

Mrs. Wesley passionately believes in her work, although she said she
"sometimes has a problem with people within the church that have trouble
accepting new ideas and resist change."

Although she speaks Oji-Cree, some of her siblings cannot and she feels
that she, like her father, has mastered the trick of balancing native and
Anglican culture. She is optimistic about the healing and reconciliation

"I grew up understanding that my culture and the Gospel run parallel.
People essentially are people. They need to be in a relationship; I find
that very exciting. The two cultures can get together," she said.

(Note: this story will appear in the January issue of the Anglican Journal.
It begins an occasional series looking at healing projects across the


Closer ties with Lutherans brings windfall to Anglicans
-- General Synod website news story

A New Agape
Plan of Anglican work in support of a new partnership between indigenous
and non-indigenous Anglicans

Granting criteria for education, healing and reconciliation programs/events
related to residential school issues

Healing and Reconciliation
-- overview of healing fund plus links to descriptions of projects funded

Lutheran Life Insurance Society of Canada

Leanne Larmondin
Web Manager
Anglican Church of Canada
600 Jarvis St.
Toronto ON  L5E 2G1
(416) 924 9199 ext. 307

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