The British North American Act makes Indian education a federal responsibility. Indian Residential Schools were located in every province and territory except Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island and operated for well over a century. The Government of Canada typically operated the schools as a joint venture with religious organizations.
The Indian Act was first enacted in 1876 and it contained a number of clauses that allowed the federal government to establish Indian Residential Schools. Even though we now know the damage that was caused to many Aboriginal people and communities as a result of residential schools, these clauses remain part of the laws of Canada.
The announcement to repeal the Residential School provisions of the Indian Act was made on the occasion of Truth and Reconciliation Commission's first National Event held in Winnipeg, Manitoba June, 15, 2010.
The Final Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples is released. It recommends a public investigation into the violence and abuses at residential schools and brings the experiences of former students to national attention.
Government responds to Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples with "Gathering Strength: Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan" and calls for a renewed partnership with Aboriginal people, based on recognition of past injustices.
“Gathering Strength” includes:
In June 2001, a new federal department, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada, is created to focus federal efforts to manage and resolve abuse claims and address the legacy left by the schools.
In November 2003, the Government launches the National Resolution Framework, which includes a litigation strategy, health supports, a Commemoration Program and an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process.
After approaches such as litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution prove to be lengthy, adversarial and costly, the Government appoints the Honourable Frank Iacobucci to work with legal counsel for former students, legal counsel for Church entities and other representatives of former students, including the Assembly of First Nations and other Aboriginal organizations, to develop an agreement for a fair and lasting resolution of the legacy of Indian Residential Schools.
Advocacy and Public Information Program, a grants and contributions program, is created to support the effective implementation of the IRSSA and to promote reconciliation.
Implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) begins 6 months after having been given court approval in 9 Canadian jurisdictions.
The five main components of the IRSSA are:
Justice Harry Laforme is appointed Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), while Claudette Dumont-Smith and Jane Morley are appointed as Commissioners. Justice Laforme later resigns on October 20, 2008 and the remaining Commissioners resign effective June 1, 2009.
On June 11, 2008, the spiritual leaders of the Anglican, Presbyterian and United Churches, along with representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, the leaders of the five national Aboriginal groups, and the other signatories of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement come to hear the Prime Minister of Canada and the leaders of the Opposition Parties apologize to former students of Indian Residential Schools in the House of Commons.
Former Minister Chuck Strahl announces that as of July 1, 2009 Justice Murray Sinclair will become the new Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, while Chief Wilton Littlechild and Marie Wilson will assume the responsibilities of Commissioners.
Governor General Michaëlle Jean re-launches the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in an emotional ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
At the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s first National Event in Winnipeg, Canada announces its intent to repeal those sections of the Indian Act that allowed for the establishment of Indian residential schools and the removal of children from their homes and communities.
On August 18, 2010 Minister Duncan apologizes to the Inuit families who were forcibly relocated to the High Arctic.
The TRC launches the Commemoration initiative on January 4, 2011.
Minister Duncan announces funding for the Advocacy and Public Information Program has been extended for 2011-12 with an additional $4 million, bringing the total since its inception in 2007-08 to $22 million. The 2011-12 criteria focuses on promoting healing and reconciliation amongst youth and inter-generational former students, in addition to sharing Settlement Agreement information about the Common Experience Payment application deadline, Independent Assessment Process application deadline and other pertinent information about the Settlement Agreement.
The TRC hosted its second National Event in Inuvik, NWT. Recognizing the logistical challenges for former students to travel to Inuvik, AANDC contributed $400,000 to six northern Aboriginal organizations to support travel and accommodations for more than 170 former students to attend the Inuvik event. Health Canada contributed the same amount to assist with travel to the national northern event.
The Common Experience Payment (CEP) is one element of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Implementation of the court-approved Settlement Agreement began on September 19, 2007, and was negotiated by representatives from various Aboriginal organizations, church entities, legal representatives for former students, and the Government of Canada.
The CEP is paid to eligible former students who resided at a listed Indian Residential School. Eligible former students receive $10,000 for their first year (or part thereof) of their attendance at a listed Indian Residential School plus $3,000 for each additional year (or part thereof).
The CEP application deadline was September 19, 2011. Late applications will be accepted until September 19, 2012 in cases of disability, undue hardship and exceptional circumstances, and must include a written reason for the delay in application. For more information, you can call the CEP line at 1-866-699-1742 or on Service Canada’s website.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission hosted its third National Event in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Government of Canada’s gesture of reconciliation for this event included a contribution of $200,000 to support travel and accommodations for former students to participate in this event. This was in addition to the recent announcement that Canada will remember the legacy of Indian Residential Schools through the permanent installation of stained glass artwork in Parliament.
The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development announces that the Government of Canada will commemorate the legacy of Indian Residential Schools through a permanent installation of stained glass artwork in Centre Block on Parliament Hill.
The Independent Assessment Process (IAP) is a claimant-centred, non-adversarial, out of court process for the resolution of claims of sexual abuse, serious physical abuse, and other wrongful acts suffered at Indian Residential Schools.
The IAP is one element of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which is the largest class action settlement in Canadian history and aims to bring a fair and lasting resolution of the legacy of residential schools. The court-approved Settlement Agreement was negotiated by representatives from various Aboriginal organizations, church representatives, legal representatives for former students, and the Government of Canada.
IAP applications will be accepted until September 19, 2012.