Common Experience Payments

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Common Experience Payments Process

The Common Experience Payment (CEP) is a lump-sum payment that recognizes the experience of living at an Indian Residential School(s) and its impacts. All former students who resided at a recognized Indian Residential School(s) and were alive on May 30, 2005 were eligible for the CEP. This includes First Nations, Métis, and Inuit former students.

The deadline to apply for the CEP was September 19, 2011.

Applications are no longer being accepted.

Statistics on the implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement

Decisions on payments

Government of Canada researchers use several ways to verify that former students resided at a recognized Indian Residential School:

  1. A computer search is an automatic search of over two million documents which produces clear answers in about 40 per cent of cases.
  2. If the computer search does not give a clear answer, a researcher must manually search through documents for each school named in the application in order to confirm eligibility.
  3. If a manual search does not produce a clear result, the CEP Response Centre will try to contact the applicant to find out more about their residential school experience.  If the applicant can provide information, their answers will be compared with what is known about the school and life there to support the application.

Once an application is processed, applicants receive a detailed letter explaining their assessment. Payment, if applicable, will arrive within a few days of the letter. If an applicant is not satisfied with the outcome of their application, they have an opportunity to have their application reconsidered.

Applying for reconsideration

Applicants can request reconsideration of their original decision. Reconsideration is an internal review of the initial CEP decision. It is completed by the government to ensure that the original decision is accurate and appropriate.

Applicants do not need to provide any new information for reconsideration but any information that can help prove residency at an IRS school is welcome.

Request reconsideration of your application for the Common Experience Payment

A notice of the decision will be sent to the applicant. Any payment should arrive within a few days of the decision letter.  The decision letter will include an explanation of any years for which there was no payment.

Deadline to apply for reconsideration

You have six months from the date noted on the top of your Common Experience Payment decision letter or from the date the letter from the National Administration Committee (NAC) letter was issued, whichever is later, to apply.

Important: If you do not apply for the reconsideration process, you will not be able to appeal your assessment any further.

Reconsideration eligibility

To be eligible for reconsideration, the former student must:

  • Have been a resident at an Indian Residential School(s) where previously they may have been a day student
  • Have resided at a school that is on the list of recognized Indian Residential Schools
  • Have been alive on May 30, 2005
Day school students

Former day school students who attended an Indian Residential School recognized by the Settlement Agreement may have the option of pursuing certain abuse claims through the Independent Assessment Process. They may also be eligible for other individual and collective initiatives under the Settlement Agreement.

Reconsideration decisions

Once the reconsideration process is completed (whether a supplemental payment was approved or not), the applicant will receive a letter that provides the details of the decision.

The majority of requests for reconsideration will be processed within 90 days. Some requests will be more complex and may take up to 160 days to process. In cases where a reconsideration decision is not possible within 90 days of receipt of the applicant's request, a letter will be sent to the applicant notifying them that work on their file is continuing and that additional time is required.

Applying for an appeal

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the reconsideration process, you can request an appeal to the National Administration Committee (NAC), a committee of seven members made up of one representative from each party to the Settlement Agreement. Following the decision of the NAC, a payment will be made as required.

Appeal the decision of reconsideration for your CEP application

Eligible Indian Residential Schools

There are 139 recognized Indian Residential Schools. Eligible schools were agreed upon between all parties to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement involved in the negotiation process.  Read more about how schools were added as part of the Statistics on the implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

Schools added to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement

Article 12 of the Settlement Agreement sets out a two-part test that is used to assess each requested institution to determine if it should be recognized as an Indian Residential School. To date, 9,469 people have asked for 1,530 distinct institutions to be added to the Settlement Agreement.

Since implementation of the Settlement Agreement, Canada has found that seven institutions met the Article 12 test criteria and they have been added to the list of recognized Indian Residential Schools for specific periods of time. The court has also added two institutions, for a current total of 139 residential schools eligible under the Settlement Agreement.

Criteria to add a school to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement

Under Article 12 of the Settlement Agreement, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) is responsible for researching and assessing available information and deciding whether or not the requested institution satisfies the criteria to be added to the Settlement Agreement.

The criteria outlined in Article 12 of the Settlement Agreement are:

  • Children were placed in a residence away from the family home by or under the authority of the Government of Canada for the purpose of education
  • The Government of Canada was jointly or solely responsible for the operation of the residence and care of the children resident there.

The criteria emphasize the nature of the residence and not the school.

Requests can be made through the Settlement Agreement website or by calling 1-866-879-4913. The official court web site contains a list of all requests to add institutions to date, as well as status updates for decisions on requests to add institutions to the IRSSA.

AANDC is obliged under the Settlement Agreement to provide a response to requestors and the National Administration Committee, the multi-party committee overseeing the administration of the IRSSA, within 60 days of receiving the request. The department can also ask for an extension of time in the case of complex research.

Advanced payment program

On May 10, 2006, the government announced an Advance payment program for former students who resided at a recognized Indian Residential School and who were 65 years of age or older on May 30, 2005, the day the negotiations were initiated. Upon application and verification, eligible former students received an $8,000 advance payment, which would then be deducted from their future Common experience payment.

Advance payment application forms were accepted until December 31, 2006. A total of $82.6M was paid to individuals 65 and older under the program.

Canada’s role in the common experience payment

Canada is the trustee for the $1.9 billion set aside for the Common Experience Payment and is accountable to the parties of the Settlement Agreement and to the courts. In each stage of the process (initial application, reconsideration or appeal) Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada will contact applicants to gain clarification or additional information surrounding their residential school experience to help with the research assessment. When information is unclear or incomplete, interpretation will favor the applicant.

Personal credits

Deadlines to apply, redeem and use personal credits

Note: The deadline to apply for personal credits has now passed. It was March 9, 2015.

The deadlines to redeem and use personal credits have been extended:

  • June 8, 2015, is the new deadline for approved education groups to submit redemption forms for payment.
  • August 31, 2015, is the new deadline for CEP recipients, or their family members, to complete courses or programs for which personal credits are used.

Redeem or use personal credits

What are personal credits?

Personal credits may be used for a wide range of educational programs and services, including those provided by universities, colleges, trade or training schools, Indigenous institutions of higher learning. Programs or services could include literacy or trades as well as Aboriginal identities, histories, cultures or languages.

Value of personal credits

Personal credits have no cash value. They are redeemable only for individual or group educational services. They can only be used for programs and services at approved educational entities and groups. Each CEP recipient can receive up to $3,000 in personal credits, depending on the approved educational expenses.

The personal credits will be issued directly to the educational entity or group providing the service.

Who can use personal credits?

Common Experience Payment recipients can use the full amount themselves or give part or all of their personal credits to family members such as a spouse, child, grandchild or sibling, as defined in the terms and conditions of the Settlement Agreement. Personal credits of multiple CEP recipients can be combined to support a group learning activity.

How to redeem personal credits

Once approved, Common Experience Payment recipients will be sent a personalized redemption form for each individual using personal credits at each educational group. Once the form is received, they should provide it to the educational group listed. The educational group must then complete and mail back the redemption form to Crawford Class Action Services, the court-appointed administrator of the personal credits program.

Unused personal credits

The value of any unused personal credits will be given to the National Indian Brotherhood Trust Fund and Inuvialuit Education Foundation for educational programs as set out in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

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