An Overview of the TRC Mandate Brad Morse, Dean of Law. University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. Introduction. Brief Overview of: Indian Residential Schools (IRS) – The Vision IRS: The Reality The Settlement Agreement & its key terms The Mandate of the TRC The National Research Centre.
University of Ottawa
Faculty of Law
Indian Residential Schools (IRS) – The Vision
Some people have suggested that IRS, which also captured some Inuit and Métis children, were created from good intentions to share European education and technology believed to be essential for survival in the 19th and 20th century economies.
Governments saw IRS as an effective means of killing off traditional Indigenous values for European ones. Removing children from their homes & communities to isolate them in distant schools was intended to produce assimilated members of the dominant society, unconnected to their territories, families and traditions. Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and United Churches saw IRS as an ideal method to Christianize.
Location of Residential Schools
1857 - Gradual Civilization Act passed to assimilate Indians.
1867 - Canada became semi-independent
1868 – Federal law used to define & affect lives of Indians
1870-1910 - Assimilation of Aboriginal children= clear objective
1920 - Compulsory attendance for all childrenages 7-15 years. Aboriginal children seized by
priests, Indian agents and police officers.
1931 - 80 residential schools operating in Canada.
1948 –72 IRS with 9, 368 students.
1979 –12 IRS with1,899 students.
1996 - Last federally funded IRS closes
R. v. Frappier
One of 1st cases against IRS employee; Claude Frappier was sentenced to 5 years in prison after pleading guilty to 13 counts of indecent assault against boys aged 8 to 11 years.
R. v. O’Connor
Hubert O’Conneo, a Catholic priest and principal of Cariboo Indian Residential School, was convicted of one count of rape and one count of indecent assault in 1996.
A healing circle was eventually established in which 38 people participated and at the end the now Bishop O’Conner apologized to his victims.
R. v. Maczynski
A former supervisor, Maczynski, was convicted on 29 of 30 counts of gross indecency, indecent assault and buggery offences for which he received a total of 117.5 years.
He exhibited no remorse and understanding of the horrific nature of his offences
R. v. Leroux
In 1998, Leroux, a former supervisor, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for various sexual offences committed against 14 young men in their teens.
Leroux did admit what he had done was wrong and did not try to shift responsibility to the victims.
By March 2001, over 7,200 individuals had filed civil suits vs. CDN government
In 1999, a person known as F.S.M. successfully sued Anglican Church & CDN Government for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and vicarious liability.
Court held Federal Government & Anglican Church both liable and shared liability at 40% & 60% respectively.
Blackwater case = breakthrough. 7 years after trial, Supreme Court of Canada held United Church and CDN Government vicariously liable for sex assaults -75% Federal liability and 25% to the United Church
RCAP Report of 1996 recommended :
Federal Government produced Gathering Strength: Canada’s Aboriginal Action Plan in 1998. The Plan articulated a four-fold approach to address Indian Residential School issues:
IRSSA = out-of-court settlement representing consensus reached among Canada, legal counsel for former students, Churches, Assembly of First Nations and other Aboriginal organizations.
IRSSA = largest class action settlement in Canadian history; approved by all parties May 10, 2006. Implementation began on 19 September 2007 after opt-out vote finished.
Schedule N of IRSSA establishes TRC with 5 year term of 3 Commissioners with staff, Regional Liaisons and assistance of the Indian Residential School Survivor Committee to:
1. Facilitate the gathering of the ‘Truth’ through Individual Statement-Taking/Truth Sharing by former students, their families and communities as well as from those involved in the schools
2. Support the holding of 7 national events and many community events across the country to contribute to truth, healing and reconciliation
3. Foster public education among all about IRS & its continuing legacy so as to assist in building a new relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians
4. Aid in regional and national commemoration initiatives
5. Encourage reconciliation on a personal, community, regional and national level between and among all those individuals, churches, and government agencies who were directly involved in attending, working at, authorizing and operating residential schools
6. Create as comprehensive an historical record as possible
1. Within Library & Archives Canada (LAC)?
2. Standalone Centre with own Board?
3. Distinct branch of LAC but with own Board?
4. Partnership between LAC or CMCC with Survivors or Aboriginal organizations?
5. Partnership with a string of universities?
6. Foundation with statutory base & ongoing funding (CRRF) or not (AHF)