CBC obtained documents:
"The Roman Catholic Church spent millions of dollars that were supposed to go to residential school survivors on lawyers, administration, a private fundraising company and unapproved loans, according to documents obtained by CBC News."
Photo by Sam Moqadam
The documents include a host of other revelations. They appear to contradict the Catholic Church's public claims about money paid to survivors. "There are also a large number of serious accounting discrepancies that are alarming to Canada," states one document, a 53-page federal government "factum" summarizing the evidence in a 2015 court matter. None of the other churches involved in the landmark Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement of 2005 — Anglican, United and Presbyterian — engaged in any of these practices. They all paid the full amounts agreed to years ago without incident. The Catholic Church never ended up having to legally justify its activity. On the eve of the 2015 hearing on the matter, Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench Justice Neil Gabrielson approved the church's controversial buyout proposal, and the case was closed.
Advocates for survivors say they're disgusted and that the Catholic Church must be held accountable. "This is unbelievably, absolutely gross. It's completely wrong," said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a former Saskatchewan provincial court judge and director of the University of British Columbia's Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre in Vancouver. She reviewed the documents at CBC's request. "How could anyone do something like this?"
None of the lawyers involved in the 2015 case could be reached for comment on Wednesday. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) declined an interview request. An official noted the CCCB was not a party to the settlement. Individual dioceses and orders created a corporation to oversee the deal.