David Scott, a representative of the London-based New England Company (NEC), said he was grateful he had the opportunity to witness the B.C. National Event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), held Sept. 18 to 21 in Vancouver.
“I haven’t got words to express what I’ve heard. Archbishop John [Privett, bishop of the Anglican diocese of Kootenay and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon] talked about the deep shame we must feel as Anglicans,” said Scott in an interview with the Anglican Journal. “I heard the most dreadful things; hearing them is different from intellectually knowing about them,” he said, referring to the experiences of abuse that were shared by former Indian residential school students.
The New England Company, founded by Oliver Cromwell in 1649 to bring Christianity to native people in British colonies, gives about $300,000 in grants annually to support indigenous ministries in various dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada and other institutions, including the Vancouver School of Theology (VST). This year, one such grant went to the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) to support an indigenous minister and to help bring some of its parishioners to the TRC event.
Scott said his experience at the event would help inform the context in which grants are made by the New England Company. “I think it’s important that I was here and to report back on what has happened.”
The New England Company, Scott noted, has been sued in relation to residential schools in Canada and has spent over a million pounds in defence. “That alone [has] made us aware of what was going on” in relation to residential schools in Canada, said Scott.
In 1998, former students of the Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., filed a class action suit against the Government of Canada, the diocese of Huron and the New England Company, alleging harm was inflicted on them at the school. The NEC opened the school in 1828 and ran it until 1922, when it leased the school to the federal government. The Mohawk class action suit covered the years 1922 to 1969. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the Divisional Court of Ontario both refused to allow the case to proceed. In 2005, it was settled by a way of a national agreement involving the Government of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, legal counsel for Indian Residential School survivors and various religious entities.
The New England Company also owned and operated St. George’s Indian Residential School in Lytton, B.C., until the 1920s, when the school was handed over to the federal government. The school principal was an Anglican cleric and Anglican doctrine was woven into the curriculum.
While in Canada, Scott also visited the VST and travelled with APCI Bishop Barbara Andrews to attend the installation of the Rev. Danny Whitehead as the new ministry developer for an Anglican parish in Lytton, B.C.
He later flew to Calgary to attend a meeting of the Council of the North, which comprises financially-assisted Anglican dioceses in Canada’s north. He ended his Canadian tour with a visit to the Sandy-Salteaux Spiritual Centre in Beausejour, Man., which offers an aboriginal theological and ministry training program run by the United Church of Canada.