The Healing Journey

Trigger warning: Readers may be triggered by the recount of Indian Residential Schools. To access a 24-hour National Crisis Line, call: 1-866-925-4419. Community Assistance Program (CAP) can be accessed by Anishinabek Nation member first nation citizens: 1-800-663-1142.

The Healing Journey


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.
  • Fort William Orphanage Boarding School St. Joseph’s Home
  • 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).


On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, on behalf of the Governmentof Canada,issued a public apology to Indigenous peoples acknowledging Canada’s role in the Indian Residential Schoolssystem.

“ The treatment of children in Indian Residential Schools is a sad chapter in our history. Two primaryobjectives of theresidential schools system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their home, families,traditionsand cultures, and to assimilate into the dominant culture. These objectives were based on the assumption thatAboriginalcultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some saw it, as it was infamously said, ‘tokill theIndian in the child’. We now recognize that it was wrong to separate children.You can watch the Apology here of the Statement of Apology can be found here


The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) is mandated to inform all Canadians about the IndianResidentialSchool (IRS) system. It is responsible for documenting the truth of Survivors and their families, communities,andothers that are personally affected by the Indian Residential School system.The TRC is further responsible for:

  • Preparing a comprehensive historical record of the policies and operations of the schools and produce areport that willinclude recommendations to the Government of Canada concerning the Indian Residential School system and itslegacy.
  • Hosting seven national events in different regions across Canada to promote awareness and public educationabout the IRSsystem and its impacts.
  • Establishing a national research center 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 tributein apermanent and lasting manner to former Indian Residential Schools students.

The mandate and activities of the TRC can be accessed HERE


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 paperwork 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


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 theindividual’s status or place of residence within Canada, who attended an Indian Residential School listed inthe 2006Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement are eligible to receive services from the Resolution HealthSupportProgram.
  • Family members of former students: In recognition of the intergenerational impacts that the IndianResidential Schoolshad on families, Resolution Health Support Program services are also available to family members of formerstudents ofIndian Residential Schools. Family of former students include their spouse or partner; those raised by orraised in thehousehold of a former Indian Residential School student; and any relation who has experienced effects ofintergenerational 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 Indigenous organizations who coordinate theservices ofElders and/or traditional healers. Cultural supports seek to assist former students and their families tosafely addressissues related to Indian Residential Schools as well as the disclosure of abuse during the SettlementAgreement 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 Indigenous organizations and are designed to helpformer students andtheir families safely address issues related to the negative impacts of the Indian Residential Schools aswell as thedisclosure of abuse during the Settlement Agreement process. A Resolution Health Support Worker will listen,talk andprovide support to former students and their family members through all phases of the Settlement Agreementprocess.
  • Professional Counselling – Professional counsellors are psychologists and social workers that areregistered with HealthCanada, for individual or family counselling. A professional counsellor will listen, talk and assistindividuals to findways of healing from Indian Residential School experiences.
  • Transportation – Assistance with transportation may be offered when professional counselling and culturalsupportservices are not locally available.