1.Q.What is the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) and how does it address the legacy of Indian Residential Schools?
1.A.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:
1.Q. What is the Common Experience Payment?
1.A. 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:
2.Q. Who is eligible for the CEP?
2.A. 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.
Also, 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.
3.Q. How do you apply for the CEP?
3.A. The deadline for applications to the CEP was September 19, 2011.
4.Q. Is there a deadline for applying to receive the CEP?
4.A. The deadline for applications to the CEP was September 19, 2011.
5.Q. What is the status of the CEP?
5.A. For up to date statistics please see our website here.
6.Q. Do I need a lawyer to apply for the Common Experience Payment?
6.A. No. You did not need to hire a lawyer to apply for the CEP.
7.Q. Will receiving the CEP affect social assistance benefits?
No, receiving the CEP will not affect social assistance benefits.
8.Q. Is the CEP taxable?
8.A. No, the CEP is not subject to income taxes.
9.Q. What was the Advance Payment Program?
9.A. 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.
1.Q. What if former students are unsure whether they are included in the IRSSA in regards to CEP?
1.A. If former students still are not sure whether the institution they attended is included in the IRSSA or they are unsure of their eligibility, they can:
2.Q. How was the date for CEP eligibility chosen?
2.A. The date of May 30, 2005 was decided jointly by the parties that negotiated the IRSSA, which includes the Assembly of First Nations, the Federal Representative, counsel representing former students of Indian Residential Schools, and various Church representatives.
It was decided by all parties to the IRSSA that May 30, 2005 offered a fair compromise since it coincided with the government's appointment of the Honourable Frank Iacobucci as the Federal Representative, whose mandate was to reach a fair and lasting resolution of the Indian Residential Schools legacy.
3.Q. How are the years of CEP eligibility calculated?
3.A. The CEP is calculated based on residence at a recognized IRS during any school year, or part of a "school year" and not a "calendar year".
For example, if an applicant resided at a recognized school during the 1960-1961 and 1961-1962 school years, they are eligible for compensation for two school years. In some cases applicants have mistakenly calculated their compensation amount based on calendar years (1960, 1961, and 1962).
4.Q. Why were foster care and day schools not included in the IRSSA?
4.A. The IRSSA was the culmination of discussions launched for the purpose of achieving a fair and lasting resolution of the legacy of IRS only and as a result, did not include foster care and day schools. However, former day school students who attended an IRS recognized by the IRSSA may have the option of pursuing abuse claims through the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) as set out in the 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.
5.Q. What is the government doing about the ongoing demands for settlements with former students of foster care and day schools?
5.A. 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.
1.Q. How was the definition of eligible institutions decided in the IRSSA?
1.A. 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.
2.Q. Which institutions are included in the IRSSA?
2.A. 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 is available or by calling toll-free 1-866-879-4913.
3.Q. What if someone wants to request to have a new institution added to the IRSSA?
3.A. 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.
4.Q. How will it be decided if an institution is added to the list of eligible IRS?
4.A. 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:
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.
5.Q. Have any institutions been added to the list of eligible IRS?
5.A. Yes. Complete statistics on institutions added to the list of eligible IRS can be found here.
Stirland Lake and Cristal Lake
6.Q. Will individuals from Stirland Lake and Cristal Lake schools need to apply for the Common Experience Payment (CEP) and Independent Assessment Process (IAP). If so, what are their deadlines?
6.A. The court has ordered that former students of Stirland Lake and Cristal Lake schools submit their CEP and IAP applications on or before September 19, 2012.
7.Q. The CEP deadline has passed. Are former students who attended these schools able to submit an application?
7.A. Yes. The Court has ordered that individuals who attended Stirland Lake or Cristal Lake schools can submit a CEP application on or before September 19, 2012.
8.Q. If a former student from these schools has previously applied to CEP and/or IAP and been denied can they reapply?
8.A. Yes. The court has ordered that all former students who attended Stirland Lake or Cristal Lake schools and applied for CEP and/or IAP prior to November 16, 2011 must reapply. All applications received after November 16, 2011 will be reviewed.
9.Q. How will former students of Stirland Lake and Cristal Lake schools be advised of the application process and deadlines for CEP and IAP?
9.A. The court has ordered that the Government of Canada proceed with a notice plan targeting former students of Stirland Lake and Cristal Lake schools, to ensure former students do not miss the application deadlines outlined in the IRSSA.
Once the notice plan is approved by the court, the notice will appear in local newspapers, radio and in a mail-out to known students who attended those institutions.
1.Q. Do applicants need to have a copy of their school records to apply for the CEP?
1.A. No, it is not necessary for former students to find or provide their schools records in order to determine CEP eligibility.
2.Q. What if the government does not have their records?
2.A. The government has collected extensive records for all Indian Residential Schools recognized by the IRSSA. Given the vast period of time that IRS were in operation, there are some cases where records are incomplete. These records may be incomplete due to a variety of factors, including the destruction of schools by fire, archival issues and record keeping policies.
CEP is not denied simply because records do not exist.
If the government does not have specific records concerning the period a person is applying for CEP, the applicant is contacted to discuss what they remember about residing at an IRS. Once all available information is assessed, oral or written, an eligibility decision is issued. If applicants disagree with the initial CEP decision, they may request the government reconsider their application and at that time former students may wish to submit additional information.
3.Q. What is the government doing regarding incomplete records?
3.A. We are aware that incomplete records is an issue and are continuing to work with former students through the Court-approved and supervised IRSSA process to ensure applicants receive the compensation for which they are eligible.
The government is making every effort to minimize the impact of incomplete records on former students. Research is ongoing to address the limited gaps in records the government has collected. Officials are continuing 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 CEP.
4.Q. Has the Government kept proper records of attendance at Indian Residential Schools?
4.A. The federal government began to play a role in the development and administration of Indian Residential Schools as early as 1874. Most residential schools ceased to operate by the mid-1970s; the last federally-run Indian Residential School in Canada closed in 1996.
Given the vast period of time that IRS were in operation, inevitably there are some cases where records are incomplete. These records may be incomplete due to a variety of factors, including the destruction of schools by fire, archival issues and record keeping policies.
However, officials continue to work with various parties including provincial and territorial governments, church entities, First Nations, and Band Councils, in order to locate and obtain IRS records to assist in the efficient processing of the CEP.
1.Q. When will former students receive their CEP?
1.A. AANDC is making every effort to process all applications as quickly and efficiently as possible. It is important to understand, however, that each former student's application is unique, and the details of that application will largely dictate how quickly it can be processed. Eligibility first has to be confirmed for each applicant, then the duration of residency at a recognized IRS under the IRSSA. Information on the average processing time of an application, as well as statistics can be found here.
2.Q. What if the CEP received is less than the amount applied for?
2.A. In cases where the CEP received is less than expected, the applicant will receive a detailed letter explaining their assessment and precisely how to proceed if they do not agree with the government's decision concerning the outcome of their application under the Court-supervised IRSSA.
We recognize some of the claims are not easy to process and acknowledge that each application represents a unique set of circumstances requiring highly-skilled research, due diligence and the greatest respect for each applicant.
There are a number of reasons why former students could potentially receive less than the amount for which they applied:
In addition former students may have:
3.Q. Why are some CEP applicants receiving a payment with no accompanying explanation?
3.A. Once a payment is approved, a cheque or direct deposit is normally issued within 1 to 3 business days by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC). To date, the majority of payments are being made through direct deposit. However, the letters explaining the amount received are sent under separate cover through the mail. Therefore, there can sometimes be a delay between the receipt of the payment and the explanation letter.
4.Q. Why are some CEP applicants not receiving any payment at all?
4.A. Some CEP applicants are applying even though they are not eligible under the Court approved IRSSA. These applicants can include:
The parties to the IRSSA and the Courts recognize that former students are disappointed. However, many of these former students may be eligible for other individual and collective initiatives under the IRSSA.
1.Q. What if an applicant is not satisfied with the decision regarding their CEP?
1.A. 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 NAC, the all-party Committee overseeing the administration of the IRSSA.
Additional copies of the reconsideration 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.
1.A. Each CEP application represents a unique set of circumstances requiring highly-skilled research, due diligence and the greatest respect for each applicant. The processing of these applications therefore is quite complex. As a result, the CEP is administered by two different federal departments, each with their own set of roles and responsibilities with respect to the delivery of the CEP.
Every effort has been made to clarify what type of inquiries should be made to each telephone number, but this can understandably seem confusing. Regardless, many of the telephone numbers are connected and in those instances where they are not, the agents are instructed to either provide the appropriate number or, if possible, connect the caller directly to the appropriate area. So if a former student calls the wrong number; they are transferred to the appropriate contact.
2.Q. How can applicants contact someone regarding the CEP?
2.A. Applicants can contact a representative for general inquiries, for assistance in the completion of an application, or to inquire about the status of their application, call:
For information about the Reconsideration Process, call:
In case of emergency, please call our crisis line which offers 24 hour culturally appropriate counseling and support services to former students experiencing distress, call: 1-866-925-4419.
1.A. The Reconsideration Process is an internal review by the government, as Administrator to the court-supervised process, 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 and it will be forwarded to our researchers at AANDC.
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.
Information on how many reconsideration requests have been received and processed and the average length of time for processing an application can be found here.
Applicants aged 65 and older have first priority in Reconsideration.
2.Q. Who is eligible for the CEP Reconsideration Process?
2.A. To be eligible for reconsideration, the former student for whom the application is made must:
Lived at the Mohawk Institute Residential Boarding School in Brantford, Ontario between 1922 and 1969, and been alive on October 5, 1996.
3.Q. Will a CEP applicant be eligible for reconsideration if they were in foster care or attended a day school?
3.A. 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.
4.Q. How do applicants apply for the CEP Reconsideration Process?
4.A. 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
5.Q. Do applicants need to retain a lawyer to apply for reconsideration?
5.A. No, applicants do not need to retain the services of a lawyer to have their CEP payment reconsidered.
6.Q. When should an applicant apply for the CEP Reconsideration Process?
6.A. 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.
7.Q. What is the National Administration Committee (NAC)?
7.A. The NAC is 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.
8.Q. How long will it take to have the CEP decision reconsidered?
8.A. 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.
9.Q. Does the applicant need to provide additional information?
9.A. 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.
10.Q. What if the applicant's records cannot be found?
10.A. 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.
11.Q. How do applicants obtain information on the status of their reconsideration?
11.A. Applicants can:
12.Q. What order will reconsideration requests be processed?
12.A. To ensure fairness and transparency while balancing the urgency associated with the most elderly, reconsideration requests will be processed based on the following priority:
13.Q. What can the applicant expect after applying to the Reconsideration Process?
13.A. 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.
14.Q. What if the applicant does not agree with the Reconsideration Process decision?
14.A. 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.
15.Q. Can the applicant apply to the Appeal Process if they have not applied for the Reconsideration Process?
15.A. No, applicants will not be able to appeal to the NAC unless they have completed the Reconsideration Process.
16.Q. What is the Appeal Process, and how does it work?
16.A. 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 procedure will be in writing. The NAC will not hold oral appeals. The 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 apply to the Courts.
17.Q. Where can the applicant get more information regarding the Appeal Process?
17.A. Information on how to file an appeal can be obtained at:
1.A. 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.
The Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement contains a section which indicates that if more than 5000 former students opted out by the end of the opt-out period, then the Agreement could be declared null and void. Former students or family members who opted out would maintain their right to sue the Government of Canada, the churches that joined in the settlement or any of the defendants in the class action lawsuits related to residential schools.
2.Q. When did the opt-out period end?
2.A. The opt-out period closed on August 20, 2007.
3.Q. How many people opted out?
3.A. 1074 individuals opted out of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement by the end of the of the opt-out period.
1.A. 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 for a period of five years, 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 will be paid at 100% by the government in all cases, following validation of the claim by an independent adjudicator.
2.Q. When can I make a claim in the Independent Assessment Process?
2.A. The deadline has passed. In accordance with the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), applications will not be accepted after September 19, 2012.
3.Q. Will I need a lawyer to make a claim in the Independent Assessment Process?
3.A. 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.
1.A. The TRC is a component of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
For detailed information please visit the Truth and Reconciliation Commission website.
2.Q. What is the Status of the Commemoration Initiative?
2.A. This program, jointly administered by AANDC and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, provides 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 will receive and evaluate 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 visit the Truth and Reconciliation Commission website.
1.A. 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 .
1.A. For many years, legal counsel have undertaken a substantial amount of work on behalf of former students and, in many instances, may have not yet received payment. Following implementation of the Settlement Agreement, legal counsel will receive fees for work undertaken in relation to representing former students.