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Inside the failed push to make Catholic Church pay for its residential school abuses / Residential Schools


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Last summer, Jason Warick at CBC Saskatoon broke the story that the Catholic church — which had run the majority of the country’s government-funded residential schools — had paid out just a fraction of the $79 million it promised years ago to survivors. Instead, millions had been funnelled from that account to pay the church’s legal fees to lawyers and administration. And even as the church said it could not meet its fundraising goal for survivors, CBC revealed it was spending nearly $300 million on cathedrals and church buildings. A Globe and Mail team was also on the story, conducting the first-ever analysis of the Catholic church’s net assets in Canada, amplifying the voices of survivors, fighting to obtain RCMP and church records, and producing more than a dozen stories in 2021 that scrutinized the church’s financial obligations to Indigenous peoples. These two powerful investigations prompted a landslide of change, from a national apology from Canadian bishops and a renewed $30-million fundraising campaign for healing and reconciliation projects, to a meeting with Pope Francis in Rome this spring and an historic apology to survivors. The repercussions continue to ripple, with ongoing efforts to secure a papal apology on Canadian soil.