The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history, began in 2007. One of the elements of the agreement was the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) to facilitate reconciliation among former students, their families, communities and all Canadians.
But how has the Government of Canada been delivering on these recommendations? Let’s take a look at what’s being done under National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (Call to Actions 77 to 78) as we continue this series on the TRC Calls to Action.
Call to Action 77: Work with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to identify and collect copies of all records relevant to the history and legacy of the residential school system
The Government of Canada’s website states that The Government of Canada is not the lead on a response for Call to Action 77. The following is a review of the Government of Canada’s response on Call to Action 77 from ReconciliAction YEG, a project aimed at providing a connection between legal topics and social media.
Since this Call to Action is directed at archives, the focus is on provinces and municipalities to take action. The difficulty of creating a complete and accurate record of the residential school system stems from several factors. The residential school system involved over 135 schools and several different government departments and church organizations, lasted over a century and had traumatic consequences on the survivors.
Despite these challenges, it is absolutely essential that Canadians develop a clear understanding of the residential school system and documentation is an important element of that understanding.
As of 2018, the Chief Archivist of NCTR, Raymond Frogner reported that provinces, municipalities and communities were co-operating with the NCTR by providing records. However, some religious orders have refused to turn over residential school records to the NCTR, including schools like St. Anne’s in Ontario, where abuse was especially rampant and egregious. As of December 2020, the St. Anne’s Residential School records have not been released, despite court orders to do so.
Due to the lack of accountability shown by these religious groups, we are assigning a D grade to this Call to Action. It is time for transparency and accountability for the role each party played in the residential school system.
Call to Action 78: Commit to making a funding contribution of $10 million over seven years to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, plus more to assist communities to research and produce histories of their own residential school experience and their involvement in truth, healing and reconciliation
The Government of Canada has provided $10 million to support the important work of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, as announced by the Prime Minister in December 2016. This contribution will help to ensure that the history and legacy of Canada’s residential school system is remembered.