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Diocese gives $100,000 to healing fund

Preserving traditional languages is a focus of the healing fund. Photo courtesy of the Anglican Church of Canada

By Stuart Mann

The Diocese of Toronto is giving $100,000 to help replenish the national church’s Anglican Healing Fund.

The fund, which has provided grants to 300 projects and programs for Indigenous people across Canada, is seeking to raise $1 million through an appeal called Giving with Grace (formerly the Anglican Appeal).

“I think it’s wonderful,” says Esther Wesley, program coordinator of the healing fund, speaking of the diocese’s gift.

She says a focus of the fund in the coming years will be to teach traditional languages to young people. “Many kids have lost their identity because their parents were institutionalized in the residential schools. One of the best things we can do for them is to teach or try to recapture the language. The number of communities that have already picked up on this is amazing.”

The gift comes from the diocese’s Ministry Allocation Fund, 10 per cent of which is tithed to projects or ministries outside the diocesan budget. Previous grants have included $100,000 to the Diocese of Athabasca to help youth in Fort McMurray, $500,000 for refugee sponsorship matching grants, and $100,000 for a Habitat for Humanity build in Scarborough.

The Anglican Church of Canada established the healing fund for Indigenous people more than 25 years ago, long before the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was reached. The fund supports local, community-led healing projects. As a response to the on-going legacy of the residential school system, grants are made to encourage and initiate programs that help heal, educate and recover language and culture. Some 45 projects have been funded in the Diocese of Toronto.

In 2003, the Diocese of Toronto and its parishioners contributed about 20 per cent or $5 million to the Anglican commitment of the residential schools settlement. Most of that came from the Ministry Allocation Fund, which receives the proceeds of the sales of church properties. A portion was returned to the diocese a couple of years ago as a result of an amended agreement with the government and churches. The diocese chose to establish the Robert Falby Fund for Indigenous Ministry. (Canon Robert Falby was one of the chief negotiators of the settlement.) It is held in the Anglican Diocese of Toronto Foundation and is being used to fund a portion of the diocese’s Indigenous ministry.