Indian Residential Schools - Frequently Asked Questions

Settlement Agreement

  1. What is the Settlement Agreement and how does it address the legacy of Indian Residential Schools?

Common Experience Payment

Please note, Applications for CEP are no longer being accepted.

  1. What is the Common Experience Payment?
  2. Who is eligible for the CEP?
  3. How do you apply for the CEP?
  4. Will receiving the CEP affect social assistance benefits?
  5. Is the CEP taxable?
  6. What was the Advance Payment Program?
  7. What is the government doing about the ongoing demands for settlements with former students of foster care and day schools?

Additions to Recognized Indian Residential Schools List

  1. How was the definition of eligible institutions decided in the IRSSA?
  2. Which institutions are included in the IRSSA?
  3. What if someone wants to request to have a new institution added to the IRSSA?
  4. How will it be decided if an institution is added to the list of eligible IRS?
  5. Have any institutions been added to the list of eligible IRS?

Common Experience Payment - Decisions

  1. What if an applicant is not satisfied with the decision regarding their Common Experience Payment?

Common Experience Payment - Call Centre

  1. How can applicants contact someone regarding the Common Experience Payment?

Reconsideration Process of Common Experience Payments

  1. What is the Common Experience Payment Reconsideration Process?
  2. Who is eligible for the Common Experience Payment Reconsideration Process?
  3. Will a Common Experience Payment applicant be eligible for Reconsideration if they were in foster care or attended a day school?
  4. How do applicants apply for the Common Experience Payment Reconsideration Process?
  5. Do applicants need to retain a lawyer to apply for Reconsideration?
  6. When should an applicant apply for the Common Experience Payment Reconsideration Process?
  7. Who is the National Administration Committee (NAC)?
  8. How long will it take to have the Common Experience Payment decision Reconsidered?
  9. Does the applicant need to provide additional information?
  10. What if the applicant's records cannot be found?
  11. How do applicants obtain information on the status of their Reconsideration?
  12. What can the applicant expect after applying to the Reconsideration Process?
  13. What if I don't agree with the Reconsideration Process decision?
  14. Can the applicant apply to the Appeal Process if they have not applied for the Reconsideration Process?
  15. What is the Appeal Process, and how does it work?
  16. Where can I get more information regarding the Appeal Process?

Opt-outs of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement

  1. What are opt-outs?
  2. When did the opt-out period end?
  3. How many people opted out?

Personal Credits

Additional information on Personal Credits

Independent Assessment Process

  1. What is the Independent Assessment Process?
  2. When can I make a claim in the Independent Assessment Process?
  3. Will I need a lawyer to make a claim in the Independent Assessment Process?

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

  1. What is the Status of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)?
  2. What if the Status of the Commemoration Initiative?

Health Supports to Former Students

  1. Will health supports continue to be available to former students?
 

Settlement Agreement

Q.1. What is the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) and how does it address the legacy of Indian Residential Schools?

A.1. The IRSSA is the largest class action settlement in Canadian history. The Government announced on May 10, 2006 that the IRSSA was approved by all parties involved: the Government of Canada, legal counsel for former students, Churches, the Assembly of First Nations, and Inuit Representatives. Implementation of the IRSSA began on September 19, 2007.

The IRSSA includes the following:

  • Common Experience Payment to be paid to all eligible former students who resided at a recognized Indian Residential School;
  • Independent Assessment Process for claims of sexual and serious physical abuse;
  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission;
  • Commemoration Activities;
  • Measures to support healing such as the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program and an endowment to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.
 

Common Experience Payment

Q.1. What is the Common Experience Payment?

A.1. The Common Experience Payment (CEP) is a lump-sum payment that recognizes the experience of living at an Indian Residential School(s) (IRS) and its impacts. CEP is based on:

  • An application accompanied by validated personal identity documentation;
  • Student residency in a recognized IRS; and
  • The number of years of residency ($10,000 for the first school year or portion thereof and $3,000 for each subsequent year).

Q.2. Who is eligible for the CEP?

A.2. All former students who resided at a recognized IRS(s) who were alive on May 30, 2005 are eligible for the CEP. This includes First Nations, Métis, and Inuit former students.

In addition, any former student who resided at the Mohawk Institute Residential Boarding School in Brantford, Ontario between 1922 and 1969, and was alive on October 5, 1996, is also eligible for the CEP.

Q.3. How do you apply for the CEP?

A.3. Applications for CEP are no longer being accepted. The deadline for applications for CEP was September 19, 2011. Additional information is available at Indian Residential Schools Settlement – Official Court Website.

Q.4. Will receiving the CEP affect social assistance benefits?

A.4. No, receiving the CEP will not affect social assistance benefits.

Q.5. Is the CEP taxable?

A.5. No, the CEP is not subject to income taxes.

Q.6. What was the Advance Payment Program?

A.6. On May 10, 2006, the government announced an Advance Payment Program for former students who resided at a recognized IRS 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 CEP.

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

Q.7. What is the government doing about the ongoing demands for settlements with former students of foster care and day schools?

A.7. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) has been named in litigation claims of abuse suffered at foster care and day schools. Similar to IRS claims, foster care and day schools claims typically seek damages for historical childhood physical and sexual abuse.

There is no similar compensation program in place for foster care and/or day school attendance and abuse. Currently, claims related to foster care and day schools have to be pursued in court or where possible, settled on a case-by-case basis.

 

Additions to Recognized IRS List

Q.1. How was the definition of eligible institutions decided in the IRSSA?

A.1. Eligible institutions for the Court approved IRSSA were agreed upon between all parties of the IRSSA involved in the negotiation process and are recognized as Indian residential schools.

Q.2. Which institutions are included in the IRSSA?

A.2. The Indian Residential Schools (IRS) and hostels that are recognized by the IRSSA are found in Schedules E and F of the Settlement Agreement. A list of recognized Indian Residential Schools and hostels is available or by calling toll-free 1-866-879-4913.

Q.3. What if someone wants to request to have a new institution added to the IRSSA?

A.3. There is a process to request to have an institution added to the IRSSA. Requests can be made through the IRSSA web site or by calling 1-866-879-4913. The web site contains a listing of all additional institutions requested to date, as well as a status chart updated regularly with decisions in regards to the request to add an institution to the IRSSA.

Q.4. How will it be decided if an institution is added to the list of eligible IRS?

A.4. Under Article 12 of the IRSSA, 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 add an institution to the IRSSA.

The criteria outlined in Article 12 of the IRSSA 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; and
  • 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.

AANDC is obliged under the IRSSA to provide a response to requestors and the National Administration Committee (NAC), the multi-party committee overseeing the administration of the IRSSA, within 60 days of receiving the request, or to ask for an extension of time in the case of complex research.

If a former student or the NAC is not satisfied with the final decision of the Government, this decision can be appealed to the courts. Information on how to initiate an appeal is available on the IRSSA web site or by calling toll-free 1-866-879-4913.

Q.5. Have any institutions been added to the list of eligible IRS?

A.5. Yes. Visit Statistics on the Implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement for complete statistics on institutions added to the list of eligible IRS.

 

CEP - Decisions

Q.1. What if an applicant is not satisfied with the decision regarding their CEP?

A.1. Once a CEP application is processed, applicants receive a detailed letter explaining their assessment and how to proceed if they are not satisfied with the outcome of their application. This is an opportunity for former students to have their application reconsidered.

CEP applicants can request reconsideration of their original decision. The reconsideration process is an internal review of the initial decision completed by AANDC. Following reconsideration, if the applicant still does not agree with the decision that has been made, the applicant has the right to request an appeal to the National Administration Committee (NAC), the multi-party Committee overseeing the administration of the IRSSA.

Additional copies of the reconsideration request forms that are sent with an explanation letter to each applicant may be submitted by mail, fax, email or telephone.

While the opportunity is available to provide additional information at this time, applicants do not need to supply the government with records or documentation or evidence to prove they resided at a recognized IRS for those years deemed ineligible.

It is important to note, that throughout this process the government's primary objective will be to assist former students in confirming that they resided at an eligible IRS, not to try to prove that they did not.

 

CEP - Call Centre

Q.1. How can applicants contact someone regarding the CEP?

A.2. Applicants can contact a representative for general inquiries, for assistance in the completion of an application, or to inquire about the status of an application, call:

  • 1-866-699-1742 (TTY 1-800-926-9105).
    This line is open Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. local time and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Newfoundland
  • Applicants can also visit a local Service Canada Centre.

For information about the Reconsideration Process, call:

  • CEP Response Centre at 1-866-565-4526
    This line is open 5 days a week 8:00 a.m. - 51:00 p.m. est.

In case of emergency, please call our crisis line which offers 24 hour culturally appropriate counseling and support services to former students experiencing distress, at: 1-866-925-4419.

 

Reconsideration Process of Common Experience Payments

Q.1. What is the Common Experience Payment Reconsideration Process?

A.1. The Reconsideration Process is an internal review by the government to ensure that the original decision regarding the Common Experience Payment (CEP) for each applicant is accurate and appropriate. The review will also consider any additional information provided by the applicant.

New information is not necessary for the Reconsideration process, but if an applicant has new information that they wish to provide along with their Reconsideration request they may provide it with their application.

Upon completion of this review, Applicants receive a letter in the mail explaining the outcome and decision regarding their Reconsideration request. While each file and set of circumstances is unique, AANDC is striving to complete reconsideration requests within 90 days. Complex requests may require additional time.

Visit Statistics on the Implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement for information on the number of requests for review received processed, and the average processing time for applications.

Applicants aged 65 and older have first priority in Reconsideration.

Q.2. Who is eligible for the CEP Reconsideration Process?

A.2. To be eligible for reconsideration, the former student for whom the application is made must:

  • Have been a resident at an Indian Residential School(s) (IRS) where previously the applicant may have been deemed 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;

OR

Lived at the Mohawk Institute Residential Boarding School in Brantford, Ontario between 1922 and 1969, and been alive on October 5, 1996.

Q.3. Will a CEP applicant be eligible for Reconsideration if they were in foster care or attended a day school?

A.3. No, the list of recognized IRS does not include foster care and day schools. Therefore, individuals who were in foster care or attended day schools are not eligible for reconsideration.

However, former day school students who attended an IRS recognized by the Settlement Agreement may have the option of pursuing certain abuse claims through the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) as set out in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA). They may also be eligible for other individual and collective initiatives under the IRSSA.

The eligibility criteria for CEP was agreed to by all parties to the IRSSA and approved by the Courts.

Q.4. How do applicants apply for the CEP Reconsideration Process?

A.4. Reconsideration request forms may be submitted by mail, fax, email or telephone to:

Common Experience Payment Response Centre
P.O. Box 5260,
Nepean LCD Merivale,
Ottawa, ON  K2C 3H5

Q.5. Do applicants need to retain a lawyer to apply for Reconsideration?

A.5. No, applicants do not need to retain the services of a lawyer to have their CEP payment reconsidered.

Q.6. When should an applicant apply for the CEP Reconsideration Process?

A.6. If an applicant is not satisfied with the outcome of their CEP decision, and they have not already applied for the Reconsideration Process, they have six months from the date noted on the top of their CEP decision letter or from the date the letter from the National Administration Committee (NAC) letter was issued, whichever is later, to apply for the Reconsideration Process.

The applicant must apply for the Reconsideration Process before they can appeal their CEP assessment any further.

Q.7. What is the National Administration Committee (NAC)?

A.7. The NAC is a multi-party Committee overseeing the administration of the IRSSA. The Committee is made up of one representative from the Government of Canada, Church Organizations, the Assembly of First Nations, the National Consortium, Merchant Law Group, Inuit Representatives and Independent Counsel.

Q.8. How long will it take to have the CEP decision Reconsidered?

A.8. 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 in order to process.

In cases where AANDC is not able to make a Reconsideration decision within 90 days of receipt of the applicant's request, a letter will be sent to the applicant notifying them that AANDC is working on their file and that additional time is required.

AANDC continues to make every effort to ensure the CEP Reconsideration requests are processed in a timely and efficient manner.

Q.9. Does the applicant need to provide additional information?

A.9. No, applicants do not need to find their records or provide additional information in order to have their CEP reconsidered. However, we encourage applicants to provide additional information they may have that might help researchers to confirm residence and years of residence.

Our objective is to ensure that all eligible former IRS students are compensated according to the IRSSA.

Q.10. What if the applicant's records cannot be found?

A.10. The government continues to work with various parties including provincial and territorial governments, Church entities, First Nations, and Band Councils, in order to locate and provide IRS records to assist in the efficient processing of Common Experience Payments.

We also encourage applicants to provide any information they may have that might help researchers to confirm residence and years of residence.

Q.11. How do applicants obtain information on the status of their reconsideration?

A.11. Applicants can:

  • Telephone the CEP Response Centre: 1-866-565-4526
  • Email: reconsideration@aandc-aadnc.gc.ca
  • Fax your request to: 1-866-352-4080
  • Write to:
    Common Experience Payment Response Centre
    P.O. Box 5260, Nepean LCD Merivale
    Ottawa, ON K2C 3H5

Q.12. What can the applicant expect after applying to the Reconsideration Process?

A.13. Once AANDC completes the Reconsideration Process (whether a supplemental payment was approved or not), Service Canada will provide the applicant with a letter that provides the details regarding the outcome of the Reconsideration Process, and of the opportunity to further appeal the decision.

Q.13. What if the applicant does not agree with the Reconsideration Process decision?

A.13. If the applicant disagrees with the reconsideration decision, they have the right to appeal to the NAC. Additional details on this Appeal Process will be provided in writing with the reconsideration decision letter.

Q.14. Can the applicant apply to the Appeal Process if they have not applied for the Reconsideration Process?

A.14. No, applicants will not be able to appeal to the NAC unless they have completed the Reconsideration Process.

Q.15. What is the Appeal Process, and how does it work?

A.15. Applicants who are still not satisfied with the Reconsideration decision may appeal to the NAC. Applicants cannot appeal to the NAC unless Reconsideration has occurred.

The Appeal Process will be in writing. The NAC will not hold oral hearings. The NAC Appeal Process must be applied for within 12 months of the date on the top of the Reconsideration Process decision letter.

If the applicant is not satisfied with the decision made by the NAC, they can appeal to the Courts.

Q.16. Where can the applicant get more information regarding the NAC Appeal Process?

A.16. Information on how to file an appeal can be obtained at:

  • Website: Residential Schools Settlement
  • Telephone: 1-866-879-4916.
  • Mail:
    CEP Appeal Administrator
    Suite 3 - 505, 133 Weber St. N.
    Waterloo, ON N2J 3G9
 

Opt-outs of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement

Q.1. What are opt-outs?

A.1. A five-month opt-out period commenced on March 22, 2007 after the approval of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement by the Provincial/Territorial courts of all nine Canadian jurisdictions in which it required approval. This enabled former students and their families to decide whether or not they wished to be included in the IRSSA. Any former student who chose to opt out was not eligible for the Common Experience Payment, and was not eligible to apply to the Independent Assessment Process. This meant that litigation was the only avenue still available as a means of settling their claims. Those who did not formally opt out were deemed to be included in the IRSSA, and were eligible for the benefits of that Agreement.

Q.2. When did the opt-out period end?

A.2. The opt-out period closed on August 20, 2007.

Q.3. How many people opted out?

A.3. 1074 individuals opted out of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement by the end of the of the opt-out period.

 

Independent Assessment Process

Q.1. What is the Independent Assessment Process?

A.1. The Settlement Agreement provides for an enhanced alternative dispute resolution process called the Independent Assessment Process (IAP). Following the Implementation Date of the Settlement Agreement, the IAP is the only way a former student may pursue a sexual or serious physical abuse claim, unless he or she has formally opted out of the Settlement Agreement. Compensation through the IAP is paid at 100% by the government in all cases, following validation of the claim by an independent adjudicator.

Q.2. When can I make a claim in the Independent Assessment Process?

A.2. The deadline has passed. In accordance with the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), applications will not be accepted after September 19, 2012.

Q.3. Will I need a lawyer to make a claim in the Independent Assessment Process?

A.3. The IAP process can be complex and you are encouraged to have a lawyer assist you. Lawyers will charge you additional fees for any IAP compensation you receive. If you are represented by a lawyer, your IAP payment will be adjusted by the government to provide an extra 15% toward any fee a lawyer may charge you, but you must pay anything beyond that, up to an additional 15%, plus taxes.

 

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Q.1. What is the Status of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)?

A.1. The TRC is a component of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

For detailed information please visit the Truth and Reconciliation Commission website.

Q.2. What is the Status of the Commemoration Initiative?

A.2. This initiative, jointly administered by AANDC and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, provided funding to support regional and national activities that honour, educate, remember, memorialize and/or pay tribute to former Indian Residential School students. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission received and evaluated all proposals for Commemoration funding. The Commission will then recommend to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada which proposals should be funded. For more information on this initiative, please see Commemoration's website.

 

Health Supports

Q.1. Will health supports continue to be available to former students?

A.1. Yes, health supports continue to be provided through Health Canada's Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program. Health supports are available to all former students eligible for the individual and collective measures of the Settlement Agreement and to their family members. For more information about the Resolution Health Support Program, please visit Health Canada's website.

AANDC continues to support former students in crisis by funding the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line, a national, 24-hour toll-free support service (1-866-925-4419) operated by trained crisis counselors, many of whom are Aboriginal.