WARNING: If this information causes any crisis or distress, call the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419

THE HEALING JOURNEY

OVERVIEW

It is appreciated that survivors, their families, communities, and Canada as a whole is at various stages in their healing journey to acknowledging and understanding the legacy of the Indian residential school system.

The following historic events and much needed services have facilitated in the healing journey:

  • Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement in 2006.
  • Statement of Apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools by the Government of Canada in 2008.
  • Establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
  • Development of Commemoration projects and activities.
  • Establishment of the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (IRSAS).
  • Establishment of the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program (IRSRHSP).

 

GOVERNMENT OF CANADA’S STATEMENT OF APOLOGY

On June 11, 2008, the Government of Canada issued a public apology to Aboriginal Peoples acknowledging Canada’s role in the Indian Residential Schools system.

Mr. Speaker, I stand before you today to offer an apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools.  The treatment of children in Indian Residential Schools is a sad chapter in our history.  Two primary objectives of the residential schools system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their home, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate into the dominant culture.  These objectives were based on the assumption that Aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some saw it, as it was infamously said, ‘to kill the Indian in the child’.   We now recognize that it was wrong to separate children.  From rich and vibrant cultures and traditions, that have created a void in many lives and communities, and we apologize for having done this.  We now recognize that in separating children from their families, we undermined the ability of many to adequately parent their own children and sowed the seeds for generations to follow.  The government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the Aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly.

You can watch the Apology HERE

Transcript of the Statement of Apology can be found HERE


 

INDIAN RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

On March 8, 2006, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was issued.  The largest class action settlement in Canadian legal history, it was negotiated by several different parties representing Aboriginal organizations, religious orders, Indian residential school survivors, and the federal government.

A copy of the Settlement Agreement can be found HERE

The Settlement includes the following six main components:

1. Common Experience Payment (CEP): amount of money to be paid to all former students who attended a recognized residential school

  • $10,000 to each eligible survivor who resided at an IRS for one, or part thereof, a school year;
  • $3,000 to each eligible survivor who resided at an IRS for each school year, or part thereof, after the first school year.
  • Deadline for CEP applications: September 19, 2011
  • Deadline for CEP applications from individuals with disabilities, undue hardship and exceptional circumstances (including written reasons for delay): September 19, 2012

2. Independent Assessment Process (IAP): extra-judicial process to resolve claims of sexual assault, physical assaults, serious psychological abuse, and any other wrongful acts, committed by an employee of the government, church personnel, or by another student, experienced by a former student of a recognized residential schools. This process is overseen by the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (IRSAS).

  • The maximum payment is $275,000
  • An additional $250,000 may be awarded for claims of income loss
  • Deadline for IAP applications: September 19, 2012

3. Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF): established in 1998 to create, reinforce and sustain conditions that promote healing, reconciliation, and self-determination.  The AHF encouraged and supported Aboriginal peoples and communities in building and reinforcing sustainable healing processes that address the legacy of the residential school system, including physical, sexual, mental, cultural, and spiritual abuses and intergenerational impacts.

In March 2010, the federal government announced that funding for the AHF would not be renewed.  It is predicted that the AHF will shut down completely in March 2014.   The AHF received funding in the amount of $350 million dollars in 1998.

4. Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC): established to contribute to truth, healing and reconciliation.  The TRC shall complete its work within a five-year timeframe, which is includes:

  • Establish a National Research Centre to allow access to former students, their families and communities, the general public, researchers and educators to historical materials.
  • Fund and host seven national events in different regions across Canada.
  • Fund and attend several community events designed by communities who are affected by the IRS system.
  • Coordinate the collection of individual statements by written, electronic or other appropriate means.
  • Hold a closing ceremony at the end of its mandate to recognize the significance of all events over the 5-year mandate of the TRC.

5. Commemoration: assist in honouring, educating, remembering, memorializing, and paying tribute to former students, their families and communities, by acknowledging their experiences and the impacts of the residential school system.  The Commemoration process may include the creation of, or improvements to existing, permanent memorials and commemorative structures, or ceremonies or other projects.

Funds in the amount of $20 million dollars have been provided for Commemoration projects and events.


 

TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION OF CANADA

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) is mandated to inform all Canadian about the Indian residential school system.  It is responsible for documenting the truth of survivors and their families, communities, and others that are personally affected by the Indian residential school system.

The TRC is further responsible for:

  • Preparing a comprehensive historical record on the policies and operations of the schools and produce a report that will include recommendations to the Government of Canada concerning the Indian residential school system and its legacy.
  • Hosting seven national events in different regions across Canada to promote awareness and public education about the IRS system and its impacts.
  • Establishing a national research centre that will be a permanent resource for all Canadians.
  • Supporting community events designed by individual communities to meet their unique needs.
  • Supporting a Commemoration Initiative that will provide funding for activities that honour and pay tribute in a permanent and lasting manner to former Indian Residential Schools students. ?

The mandate and activities of the TRC can be accessed located HERE


 

COMMEMORATION PROJECTS AND ACTIVITIES

Commemoration is an important component of the process of reconciliation.  It will allow former students, their families, and their communities to pay tribute to, honour, educate, remember, memorialize, and acknowledge the systemic impacts and the intergenerational effects of the residential school system on Aboriginal Peoples and communities.

The objectives of Commemoration are to:

  • Assist in honoring and validating the healing and reconciliation of former students and their families by acknowledging their experiences;
  • Provide supports in an effort to improve relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people;
  • Provide an opportunity for former students and their families to support one another and to recognize/celebrate their strengths, courage, resiliency and achievements;
  • Contribute to a sense of identity, unity, and belonging;
  • Promote Aboriginal languages, cultures, traditional values and spiritual beliefs;
  • Ensure the legacy of Indian residential schools, former students and their families’ experiences and needs are affirmed; and,
  • Memorialize the Indian residential school experience in a tangible and permanent way.

 

INDIAN RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS ADJUDICATION SECRETARIAT

The Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (IRSAS) ensures the effective implementation of the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) as set out in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

The IAP is an important component of the IRS Settlement Agreement.  It was developed to provide non-adversarial adjudication of claims of sexual, serious physical and psychological abuses, as experienced by the former students of IRS.  The IAP process is said to allow former students to settle claims in a claimant-centred and culturally appropriate manner based on the values of fairness, compassion, commitment, and consistency.  The deadline to submit an IAP application was September 19, 2012.

The IRSAS oversees the paper work and support work to make the Independent Assessment Process go smoothly. They receive the claims; assesses claims to see if they are eligible for the process; and works with claimants and their lawyers to prepare claims for a hearing.

The Chief Adjudicator of the IRSAS is responsible for the oversight of the functioning of the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat.  The team of adjudicators preside over the IAP hearing process and make decisions about the claims, specifically they review documents related to claims; hear the testimony of claimants and witnesses in hearings; render decisions; help parties to talk through a negotiated settlement; and review legal fees to make sure that they are not too high.

As of September 30, 2012, 98% of the estimated 80,000 former students of Indian residential schools received CEP payment.  The AANDC has received 106,023 CEP applications and of those, only 78,559 applications were eligible under the CEP.  A number of CEP applications continue to be under review.  Further information can be found HERE

As of January 31, 2013, a total of 37,648 IAP applications were received by the IRSAS, of which 19,334 have been resolved.  There are 18,314 IAP applications that remain in progress.  The IRSAS held 16,019 hearings, of which compensation was awarded in the total amount of $1,820B.  The Adjudication Secretariat Statistics from September 19, 2007 to January 31, 2013 can be found HERE


 

INDIAN RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS RESOLUTION HEALTH SUPPORT PROGRAM

The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program (IRSRHSP) provides safe, confidential, respectful, and non-judgmental mental health and emotional support services to eligible former Indian Residential School students and their families throughout all phases of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, including the Common Experience Payments (CEP), Independent Assessment Process (IAP), Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) events, and Commemorative activities.

Go to their website by clicking HERE

The IRSRHSP has a National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419 that provides immediate emotional support for former Indian Residential School students.  Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The services of the IRSRHSP are available to:

  • Former students of Indian Residential Schools: All former students of Indian Residential School, regardless of the individual’s status or place of residence within Canada, who attended an Indian Residential School listed in the 2006 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement are eligible to receive services from the Resolution Health Support Program.
  • Family members of former students: In recognition of the intergenerational impacts that the Indian Residential Schools had on families, Resolution Health Support Program services are also available to family members of former students of Indian Residential Schools.  Family of former students include their spouse or partner; those raised by or raised in the household of a former Indian Residential School student; and any relation who has experienced effects of intergenerational trauma associated with a family member’s time at an Indian Residential School.

The services of the IRSRHSP include:

  • Cultural Support – Cultural supports are provided by local Aboriginal organizations who coordinate the services of Elders and/or traditional healers. Cultural supports seek to assist former students and their families to safely address issues related to Indian Residential Schools as well as the disclosure of abuse during the Settlement Agreement process. Specific services are chosen by the former student and/or family member and can include traditional healing, ceremonies, teachings and dialogue.
  • Emotional Support – Services are provided by local Aboriginal organizations and are designed to help former students and their families safely address issues related to the negative impacts of the Indian Residential Schools as well as the disclosure of abuse during the Settlement Agreement process. A Resolution Health Support Worker will listen, talk and provide support to former students and their family members through all phases of the Settlement Agreement process.
  • Professional Counselling – Professional counsellors are psychologists and social workers that are registered with Health Canada, for individual or family counselling. A professional counsellor will listen, talk and assist individuals to find ways of healing from Indian Residential School experiences.
  • Transportation – Assistance with transportation may be offered when professional counselling and cultural support services are not locally available.

Copyright 2016 @ Union of Ontario Indians | All Rights Reserved