Commemoration is a component of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement that supported regional and national activities that honoured, educated, remembered and/or paid tribute to former Indian residential school (IRS) students, their families and their communities.

Commemoration activities have contributed to a strong foundation of reconciliation efforts by the Government of Canada, such as the historic Apology by the Prime Minister in 2008; the permanent installation of stained glass artwork in Centre Block on Parliament Hill in 2012; and the gestures of reconciliation offered by the Government of Canada at each of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's seven national events.

Commemoration was jointly managed by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC's role was to receive and review proposals to ensure they met the program objectives, as set out in Schedule J of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, and to make recommendations to AANDC for funding. AANDC's role was to approve and fund the projects recommended by the TRC, as set out in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, and ensure compliance with Treasury Board guidelines.

In 2011-2012, the TRC issued its first call-for-proposals for Commemoration. Based on TRC recommendations, AANDC provided funding to 68 projects.

Following the TRC's second call for proposals in 2012-2013, AANDC provided funding to 75 projects, based on recommendations by the TRC.

Twenty million dollars was made available for funding for Commemoration. All funds were allocated to 143 projects. The distribution of funding was based on the projects recommended  by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Commemoration Objectives

The main objectives of Commemoration were to:

  • Assist in honoring and validating the healing and reconciliation of former students and their families through Commemoration initiatives that address their residential school experience;
  • Provide support towards efforts to improve and enhance Aboriginal relationships and 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, and traditional and spiritual values;
  • Ensure that the legacy of residential schools and former students and their families' experiences and needs are affirmed; and,
  • Memorialize in a tangible and permanent way the residential school experience

As outlined in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the Government of Canada funded activities that recognized individual and family resiliency and achievements, as well as promoted Aboriginal languages, cultures, traditional values and spiritual values. All former students, their families, communities and groups, were eligible to submit a proposal for a regional or national Commemoration project.

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