The Interim Report states that -
Up until the 1990s, the Canadian government, in partnership with a number of Christian churches, operated a residential school system for Aboriginal children. These government-funded, usually church-run schools and residences were set up to assimilate Aboriginal people forcibly into the Canadian mainstream by eliminating parental and community involvement in the intellectual, cultural, and spiritual development of Aboriginal children.The Commission was established to
More than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children were placed in what were known as Indian residential schools. As a matter of policy, the children commonly were forbidden to speak their own language or engage in their own cultural and spiritual practices. Generations of children were traumatized by the experience. The lack of parental and family involvement in the upbringing of their own children also denied those same children the ability to develop parenting skills. There are an estimated 80,000 former students still living today. Because residential schools operated for well more than a century, their impact has been transmitted from grandparents to parents to children. This legacy from one generation to the next has contributed to social problems, poor health, and low educational success rates in Aboriginal communities today.
The 1996 Canadian Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and various other reports and inquiries have documented the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse that many children experienced during their school years. Beginning in the mid-1990s, thousands of former students took legal action against the churches that ran the schools and the federal government that funded them. These civil lawsuits sought compensation for the injuries that individuals had sustained, and for loss of language and culture. They were the basis of several large class-action suits that were resolved in 2007 with the implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history. The Agreement, which is being implemented under court supervision, is intended to begin repairing the harm caused by the residential school system.
• reveal to Canadians the complex truth about the history and the ongoing legacy of the church-run residential schools, in a manner that fully documents the individual and collective harms perpetrated against Aboriginal peoples, and honours the resiliency and courage of former students, their families, and communities; andThe Commission's Interim Report concludes that -
• guide and inspire a process of truth and healing, leading toward reconciliation within Aboriginal families, and between Aboriginal peoples and non-Aboriginal communities, churches, governments, and Canadians generally. The process will work to renew relationships on a basis of inclusion, mutual understanding, and respect.
1) Residential schools constituted an assault on Aboriginal children.In discussing procedural aspects the TRC comments that -
2) Residential schools constituted an assault on Aboriginal families.
3) Residential schools constituted an assault on Aboriginal culture.
4) Residential schools constituted an assault on selfgoverning and self-sustaining Aboriginal nations.
5) The impacts of the residential school system were immediate, and have been ongoing since the earliest years of the schools.
6) Canadians have been denied a full and proper education as to the nature of Aboriginal societies, and the history of the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.
The federal government has been aware of its need to provide all relevant documents since the signing of the 2005 agreement-in-principle that preceded the final Settlement Agreement. Despite this, the federal government hasThe Commission makes several recommendations -• provided the Commission with only a very limited portion of the relevant documents in its possessionIn addition, the federal government has taken the position that it cannot disclose records in its possession if those records were provided to it by the churches in response to specific residential schools court cases. It maintains this position even for records created by the federal government but that contain information first obtained from church records.
• taken the position that it has no obligation to identify and provide relevant historical documents held by Library and Archives Canada to the Commission. Under this approach, departments would have to search and produce records only from active and recent files. This is inappropriate in dealing with matters dating back over a century.
• informed the Commission that, despite the Commission’s request, it has not agreed to provide the Commission with the Settlement Agreement & Dispute Resolution (SADRE) database, which contains all the residential school research files of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
• yet to provide the Commission with appropriate levels of access to federal archives — an issue that compromises both document collection and report preparation.
The federal government asserts that since it obtained the church records and information through the litigation process, it is subject to an implied undertaking to use or disclose those records only in relation to the specific court decisions to which the records relate. The federal government asserts that the fact that the government and the churches settled such court cases through the Settlement Agreement, which includes an express obligation that Canada and the churches would disclose all relevant records in their possession, does not constitute a waiver of those implied undertakings. In the case of a conflict between the implied undertakings and the express obligation in the Settlement Agreement to produce all records in its possession to the Commission, the government maintains it must give preference to the implied undertakings. The Commission finds this position unacceptable.
In addition, while the Commission has received helpful cooperation from most of the churches and archivists it has dealt with, individual church archivists have sought to impose conditions before they will produce records to the Commission.
Such conditions include:• instructions as to how the Commission should caption photographs in its reportsSome archivists insist that the Commission acknowledge that the churches own copyright in the records located in their archives. With respect to such claims, the churches make no copyright distinctions based on who created the records or when, and do not explain what copyright interests they are seeking to protect.
• limitations on the Commission’s use of photographs to a “one-time only” use
• distinctions between their “internal” and “external” and “restricted” and “unrestricted” records
• restrictions as to how the Commission can use records in different categories.
All these issues have caused and continue to cause considerable delay for the Commission in its attempt to meet its mandated obligation and enforce compliance of the parties’ obligations to produce relevant records. It is unlikely that the document-collection process will be completed without a significant shift in attitude on the part of Canada and those parties who have been reluctant to cooperate.
1) the Government of Canada issue the necessary orders-in-council and funding authorities to ensure that the end date of the Commission and Commissioners’ appointments coincide, including the necessary wind-down period after the Commission’s last public event.
2) the Government of Canada work with the Commission to ensure the Commission has adequate funds to complete its mandate on time.
3) the Government of Canada ensure that Health Canada, in conjunction with appropriate provincial, territorial, and traditional health care partners, has the resources needed to provide for the safe completion of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s full mandate, and to provide for continuous, high-quality mental health and cultural support services for all those involved in Truth & Reconciliation and other Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement activities, through to completion of these activities.
4) each provincial and territorial government undertake a review of the curriculum materials currently in use in public schools to assess what, if anything, they teach about residential schools.
5) provincial and territorial departments of education work in concert with the Commission to develop age-appropriate educational materials about residential schools for use in public schools.
6) each provincial and territorial government work with the Commission to develop public-education campaigns to inform the general public about the history and impact of residential schools in their respective jurisdiction.
7) the Government of Canada and churches establish an ongoing cultural revival fund designed to fund projects that promote the traditional spiritual, cultural, and linguistic heritages of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada.
8) all levels of government develop culturally appropriate early childhood and parenting programs to assist young parents and families affected by the impact of residential schools and historic policies of cultural oppression in the development of parental understanding and skills.
9) the Government of Canada, and the federal Minister of Health, in consultation with northern leadership in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, take urgent action to develop plans and allocate priority resources for a sustainable, northern, mental health and wellness healing centre, with specialization in childhood trauma and long-term grief, as critically needed by residential school survivors and their families and communities.
10) the Government of Canada, through Health Canada, immediately begin work with provincial and territorial government health and/or education agencies to establish means to formally recognize and accredit the knowledge, skills, and on-the-job training of Health Canada’s community cultural and traditional knowledge healing team members, as demonstrated through their intensive practical work in support of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission and other Settlement Agreement provisions.
11) the Government of Canada develop a program to establish health and wellness centres specializing in trauma and grief counselling and treatment appropriate to the cultures and experiences of multi-generational residential school survivors.
12) the parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, with the involvement of other provincial or territorial governments as necessary, identify and implement the earliest possible means to address legitimate concerns of former students who feel unfairly left out of the Settlement Agreement, in order to diminish obstacles to healing within Aboriginal communities and reconciliation within Canadian society.
13) to ensure that survivors and their families receive as much healing benefit as the apology may bring them, the Government of Canada distribute individual copies of the “Statement of Apology to Former Students of Indian Residential Schools” to all known residential school survivors.
14) the Government of Canada distribute to every secondary school in Canada a framed copy of the “Statement of Apology to Former Students of Indian Residential Schools” for prominent public display and ongoing educational purposes.
15) federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and all parties to the Settlement Agreement, undertake to meet and explore the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as a framework for working towards ongoing reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
16) the Government of Canada meet immediately with the Aboriginal Healing Foundation to develop a plan to restore funding for healing initiatives to the Foundation within the next fiscal year.
17) the Government of Canada and the churches produce all their relevant records to the Commission as quickly as possible.
18) Canada and the churches make a dramatic change in the way they address the funding and timeliness of document production and digitization.
19) all agencies and organizations that are not parties to the Settlement Agreement, but have holdings relevant to the history and legacy of residential schools (such as provincial and university archives, libraries, museums, galleries, and Aboriginal organizations), contact the Commission and assist the Commission in receiving copies of all such relevant documents.
20) governments, educational institutions, and churches consult, design, announce, and publicly unveil residential school commemorations before the completion of the Commission’s mandate.