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Church, federal government to meet natives' lawyers. (News).

In October, representatives from the Presbyterian Church and the federal government, as well as lawyers representing 80 plaintiffs, will gather at a pretrial conference in Kenora, Ont., to attempt further negotiations in the residential schools issue. Out of 100 schools in question and more than 7,000 lawsuits, the Presbyterian Church is facing 16 lawsuits in relation to two schools: Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora and Birtle Residential School in Brandon, Man. All of the civil suits against the church also name the federal government and allege cultural deprivation, with a few, alleging physical and/or sexual abuse.

"At this point, we don't know if there will be a trial," says Rev. Stephen Kendall, principal clerk of the church's General Assembly. "Hopefully there won't be." Mr. Kendall will attend the pretrial conference on behalf of the church and report to the assembly council in November.

In a case involving the Roman Catholic Church, 28 former students of Grollier Hall Residential School in Inuvik, N.W.T., were the first to sign out-of-court settlements this summer under the federal government's pilot project for alternative dispute resolution in residential school cases. The pilot project, which took three-and-a-half years to complete, involved the former students, the federal government, the government of the Northwest Territories and the Roman Catholic Diocese of the MacKenzie.

In August, Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale assumed responsibility for the residential schools file, a position previously held by Deputy Prime Minister John Manley.
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Author:Doucet, Jane
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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