Tag Archives: Indian Residential Schools

Residential School Survivors Stories Of Abuse Can Be Destroyed After 15 Years: Court

Residential School Survivor

Residential School Survivor

The Canadian Press, April 4, 2016

TORONTO — Survivors of Canada’s notorious residential school system have the right to see their stories archived if they wish, but their accounts must otherwise be destroyed in 15 years, Ontario’s top court ruled in a split decision Monday.

At issue are documents related to compensation claims made by as many as 30,000 survivors of Indian residential schools — many heart-rending accounts of sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

Compensation claimants never surrendered control of their stories, the Appeal Court said.

“Residential school survivors are free to disclose their own experiences, despite any claims that others may make with respect to confidentiality and privacy,” the court said.

The decision came in response to various appeals and cross-appeals of a ruling by Superior Court Justice Paul Perell in 2014 related to claims made under the confidential independent assessment process — or IAP — set up as part of an agreement that settled a class action against the government.

The federal government and Truth and Reconciliation Commission fought destruction of the documents, saying they should be kept — with appropriate safeguards — to preserve the historical record of residential schools. Catholic parties argued for their destruction.

“This is a once-and-for-all determination of the rights of all parties relating to these issues,” the court said. “There will be no future cases like this one.”

Writing for the Appeal Court majority, Chief Justice George Strathy decided Perell was reasonable to order the records kept for 15 years and then destroyed, unless claimants chose to have their own accounts archived.

Survivors who opted for confidentiality should not face a risk that their stories would be stored against their will in a government archive and possibly disclosed at some time, even far into the future, the Appeal Court said.

The court rejected the idea the documents were “government records” but said the material fell under the court’s control.

“It is critical to understand that the (independent assessment process) was not a federal government program,” the Appeal Court said.

“Although Canada’s administrative infrastructure was required to carry out the settlement, it was vital to ensure that the court, not Canada, was in control of the process.”

The Appeal Court did part ways with Perell on who should be responsible for a notice program that would allow claimants time to decide whether they wanted their records archived or destroyed. Perell had given the task to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

Strathy called that unreasonable. Instead, the court ruled, the notice program should fall to the chief adjudicator of the claims process.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Robert Sharpe said the claims documents Canada has in its possession are indeed “government records” that should not be destroyed but turned over to Library and Archives Canada subject to normal privacy safeguards and rules.

The process was an “important moment in Canadian history when all Canadians, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, confronted the shocking treatment of generations of aboriginal children in the residential school system and searched for ways to repair the damage,” Sharpe said.

“If the IAP documents are destroyed, we obliterate an important part of our effort to deal with a very dark moment in our history.”

About 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children were forced to attend the church-run residential schools over much of the last century as part of government efforts to “take the Indian out of the child.” Many suffered horrific abuse.

Material collected by the truth commission, which also heard from thousands of survivors, are being housed at the National Research Centre at the University of Manitoba.


Ottawa Used Technicality To Disqualify 1,000 Residential-School Claims

A group of students and a nun pose in a classroom at Cross Lake Indian Residential School in Cross Lake, Manitoba in February, 1940. (HANDOUT/REUTERS)

A group of students and a nun pose in a classroom at Cross Lake Indian Residential School in Cross Lake, Manitoba in February, 1940. (HANDOUT/REUTERS)

The Globe and Mail, Feb. 02, 2016

The federal government used a technical argument to disqualify an estimated 1,000 claims for compensation made by indigenous Canadians who were abused at Indian residential schools listed in the agreement negotiated to award them for their suffering.

It is a move that the people who signed the deal on behalf of former students denounce as a cash-saving measure by Ottawa – one that has created unequal restitution for survivors, depending upon the date they filed their claims and the location on the school grounds where the assaults occurred.

“The government should reverse this unfair decision and agree to pay compensation to these people,” said Phil Fontaine, the former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who is himself a residential-school survivor and who launched the efforts to obtain redress.

Residential schools, which were varying combinations of boarding facilities and educational institutions, were established in the 1800s and run by churches. Ottawa made attendance compulsory for indigenous children in a massive program aimed at assimilation.

Faced with complaints during the 1950s and 60s about the quality of education being delivered, the federal government took over the operation of about 58 of the actual schools, leaving only the residences under the control of the religious orders. This is known as the “administrative split.”

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement between the government, the churches and the school survivors was implemented in 2007. Many of those who were abused gave up their right to sue the government in return for being able to participate in the Independent Assessment Process (IAP), which was created, as part of that agreement, to determine how much compensation they deserved. For three years, the issue of the administrative split was not raised at IAP hearings.

Then, in late 2010, Justice Department lawyers began arguing that schools listed in the settlement agreement ceased to be residential schools at the time the administrative split took place – and that any student who was abused after that point should be disqualified from receiving compensation unless the abuse occurred within the church-run residences. If a child was sexually or physically abused in a classroom, in a gym, or on a playground, the government lawyers argued, he or she should not receive payment for his or her suffering.

While some IAP adjudicators vehemently disagreed with the government’s position, others started dismissing claims based on the administrative split. Those that were denied were returned to Daniel Shapiro, the chief adjudicator of the IAP, for review, and they sat there, some for several years, without resolution.

In April of last year, Rosemary Nation, a judge of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, tossed out the appeal of a woman whose case had been rejected by the IAP on the basis of the administrative split. The unidentified claimant had attended the Grouard school, on the north shore of Lesser Slave Lake, and her arm had been broken by a nun some time after 1957 when responsibility for the school was handed from the federal government to the province, which occurred in a handful of the roughly 58 cases.

Justice Nation determined that Grouard was not a residential school when the abuse took place. And she agreed with the government – over the objections of the claimant and her lawyers – that adjudicators had the right to determine what was, and what was not, a residential school.

Once that decision was rendered, Mr. Shapiro dismissed the other claims affected by the administrative split – a number he estimated in 2014 would exceed 1,000.

That means the end of a compensation claim for people such as Murphy Powderface, who was molested by a teacher at the Morley school in Alberta in the 1960s. “After I got denied again, I got more depressed,” said Mr. Powderface, who said he has made several suicide attempts as a result of the abuse. “It still affects me.”

Mr. Shapiro said in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail that his adjudicators are bound by the Alberta decision.

“Our adjudicators are independent from Canada and other parties in the [agreement], and are very diligent in assessing all of the submissions and evidence brought before them in hearings under the IAP,” wrote Mr. Shapiro. “I believe that all claims are dealt with in a fair and impartial manner.”

Still, chiefs who attended a special assembly in Gatineau, Que., in December asked Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the AFN, to call a meeting of the parties to the settlement agreement to “deal with the injustice being perpetrated against survivors affected by the illegitimate actions of the office of the chief adjudicator.”

Charlie Angus, the NDP critic for indigenous affairs, said the Independent Assessment Process is the only legal process he has heard of that was set up and administered by the defendant. “The IAP has opted to side with weasel words from government lawyers over abiding by the spirit and promise of the residential-school apology,” said Mr. Angus. “This is a travesty.”

Kathleen Mahoney, who represented the AFN during the settlement talks, said she and her fellow negotiators never intended to give IAP adjudicators the power to decide what constitutes a residential school. The eligible institutions are all spelled out in the settlement agreement, she said, and although there is a provision that allows schools to be added to the list, there is none that allows them to be taken away.

Nor did the government negotiators raise the issue of the administrative split at the time the agreement was being written, said Ms. Mahoney. “Arguably, they had that opportunity, but they would have been laughed out of the room.”

Ms. Mahoney says the unfairness of the administrative-split decision is evident on many levels.

In families where two members were abused by the same person in the same way, one has been compensated because he or she filed his or her claim before 2010, while the other, who filed his or her claim later, has received nothing, she said. And “if one was assaulted in the residence, they would get compensated. But if the other was assaulted in the classroom – same abuser, same type of abuse, same time period – they are out of luck.”

Common-experience payments, which are awarded to any former student of a residential school, regardless of whether abuse occurred, are still being paid to people whose claims under the IAP have been denied because of the administrative split – so the institutions are considered residential schools for one purpose but not the other, said Ms. Mahoney.

In addition, she said, even though Mr. Shapiro used the Grouard decision to justify throwing out all of the other claims affected by the administrative split, “Grouard is quite different on its facts” from the other cases. While Grouard was handed over to the province, most of the other schools that were split from the church-run residences continued to be run by the federal government.

Throwing out all of the administrative-split cases, said Ms. Mahoney, “does undermine and contradict the agreement, which is a massive investment in reconciliation.”

Rod Soosay, a social worker at the Samson Cree First Nation who helps abuse claimants with their applications, said he has worked with many people who have had their IAP claims denied because of the administrative split.

“One lady I am dealing with right now had her IAP hearing and totally believed she would get something. She was devastated,” said Mr. Soosay. The government, he said, “are a bunch of hypocrites. It’s like apologizing in advance for slapping you in the face.”


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Indian Residential Schools: 5,300 Alleged Abusers Located By Ottawa

The federal government has located thousands of people accused of physically and sexually abusing students at Canada's Indian residential schools. (Edmund Metatawabin collection/Algoma University)

The federal government has located thousands of people accused of physically and sexually abusing students at Canada’s Indian residential schools. (Edmund Metatawabin collection/Algoma University)

17 private investigation contracted by government, at a cost of over $1.5M, to help settle abuse claims

Investigators hired by the federal government have located thousands of people accused of physically and sexually abusing students at Canada’s Indian residential schools — though they may never face criminal charges.

As part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement agreement, the government located 5,315 alleged abusers, both former employees and students.

Seventeen private investigation firms were contracted, at a cost of $1,576,380, beginning in 2005, according to information provided by Indigenous and North Affairs Canada (INAC).

The alleged perpetrators, however, weren’t tracked down to face criminal charges — it was see if they would be willing to participate in hearings to determine compensation for residential school survivors. The Independent Assessment Process (IAP), not involving the courts, was set up to resolve the most severe abuse claims.

“There’s not a lot in it for them to come forward,” says Bill Percy, a Manitoba-based lawyer who has represented numerous residential school survivors.

That’s because participation in the IAP hearings is optional.

Based on the total number of people found, so far, 4,450 have declined to participate in the IAP, with only 840 persons of interest indicating a willingness to participate.

‘There was 1 that groomed me’

One of the people who went through the IAP process is Janet Longclaws, who attended the Brandon Indian Residential School in Brandon, Man., from age seven until she was 12 years old.

“There was a group of four girls that were bullies, and there was one that groomed me,” said Longclaws.

“She became my protector, but at the same time it turned into her being the abuser next.”

Janet Longclaws

Janet Longclaws attended the Brandon Indian Residential School in Manitoba from the age of seven until she was 12 years old. (Supplied)

Now age 60, Longclaws suffers from nightmares and anxiety, especially in late August — a time that would have marked the beginning of a new school year.

Still, despite the nightmares and flashbacks of the physical and sexual abuse she endured, Longclaws cannot remember the names of her tormentors.

“I just see silhouettes of girls,” she said. “I’ve tried many times, many ways, to recall their names.”

Even though she can’t remember names, Longclaws eventually received a settlement for the abuse she suffered — though she waited 15 months for a decision.

Working as a health support worker for other residential school survivors, Longclaws said she has heard of others who have waited more than two years to hear whether they’ll be compensated.

She said she wishes she had the opportunity to face her alleged abusers in a hearing.

According to the Indian Residential School Secretariat, 33,712 residential school survivors so far have been compensated for sexual and physical abuse, with 4,278 applications in progress.

No information released to law enforcement

Only 708 alleged abusers — who are among the more than 5,300 located by investigators — have taken part in hearings since last November, with another 22 hearings scheduled.

“I think some of them … could be fearful there might be further repercussions, even criminal charges,” said Percy.

Percy also said many of these alleged perpetrators may have died, aged, or are living with some kind of medical condition, making it difficult for them to participate in an IAP hearing.

The identity and names of alleged perpetrators who want to participate in the IAP are kept on a secure server with other data related to IAP claims. They are not disclosed to anyone, other than the adjudicator in each specific claim, and to the Department of Indigenous Affairs.

Information would only be released if the adjudication secretariat is served with a search warrant, or if it’s believed a child could be at risk.

An alleged abuser is entitled to be notified of the claimant’s name and the allegations made by the claimant in the IAP application, but that person will not be given the claimant’s location, contact information, or any of the claimant’s personal information or records.

Few criminal charges

Percy says there is more former students can do, if they choose.

“There’s nothing to stop the individual survivor to go to the police, even though they told their story through this process,” he said.

Few, it seems, ever have.

Through the history of residential schools — which lasted over a century, with tens of thousands having suffered abuse — fewer than 50 people have been convicted for crimes related to the schools.

In the case of St. Anne’s Residential School, once located in Fort Albany, Ont., six school officials were criminally convicted following a five-year OPP investigation into the school during the 1990s.

By Martha Troian, for CBC News Posted: Feb 02, 2016


All Who Died At Residential Schools Should Be Named, Bodies Located: Report

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chairman Justice Murray Sinclair, right, hands a copy of the commission's main report on Canada's residential school system to then-Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, centre, as Assembly of First Nations Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde looks on June 2, 2015.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chairman Justice Murray Sinclair, right, hands a copy of the commission’s main report on Canada’s residential school system to then-Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, centre, as Assembly of First Nations Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde looks on June 2, 2015.

By Gloria Galloway | The Globe and Mail

The commission that has spent the past five years trying to learn the truth about abuses of children at the former Indian residential schools says it is time for the names of all of those students who died, and the locations of their burials, to be known.

The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was made public on Tuesday. Its main findings – including the determination that what happened behind the walls of the church-run schools amounted to cultural genocide – were released last spring along with a list of 94 “calls to action” to address ongoing problems. What is being put forward now is thousands of pages of contextual details, historical data and voices of survivors.

One section is devoted to the commission’s assertion that the students who perished in the institutions must be identified and their remains located.

“As a parent, as a family, when you’ve lost somebody, you need to know everything about that loss that you can get your hands on,” Murray Sinclair, the chair of the commission, said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “You need to know all that can be disclosed, you need to know why they died, where they died, what they died of, and you need to know as well, where they are buried.”

Justice Sinclair says his commission’s final report is about 2,300,000 words long and presents, in tremendous detail, the post-colonization history of Canada’s indigenous peoples.

More on this story:

Highlights from the report

Witness blanket tells residential school history

“This report is also primarily about residential schools but it has a lot more detailed information to show how residential schools fit into the overall picture of colonialism and oppression – legal, social and political oppression – that went on in Canada from Confederation even to today.”

Among other things, the report discusses the ways child welfare in Canada has failed indigenous people, the disproportionate incarceration of First Nations inmates, and the fact that many Métis survivors of Catholic residential schools are excluded from the settlement that was signed in 2006 with the federal government. And there is also the section on the missing children and the unmarked and untended graves.

Carlie Chase, the executive director of the Legacy of Hope Foundation, which was created to raise awareness about the legacy of the residential schools, is a member of the first generation of her family not to attend one of the residential schools.

“We are always reminded that the survivors today were actually brave children and it is heartbreaking to know that thousands of equally brave children did not survive, that their lives were taken too soon. They died at school,” said Ms. Chase. “So we must be as brave as they were and have the courage to acknowledge the hard truth of their deaths. And that truth is we let them down and we have to do better so it never happens again. So we never have to say there was a death toll at school. For their families to begin their healing, the first part of telling the truth is knowing who those children were.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was provided with records of 3,200 students who died at the schools – most from diseases that spread rapidly in crowded dormitories including tuberculosis and influenza, but also by drowning, fires, accidents, suicide and exposure when they tried to run away. But Justice Sinclair believes the real numbers are actually much higher.

“The government claims that archival records were destroyed through floods and through fires. Church records disappeared, they say, for the same reason,” said Justice Sinclair. “So, whatever one thinks of the truthfulness of that, the reality is that those records are not around for us to check.”

But there are ways to get at the information, he said.

It is clear from the data that is available that most of the deaths occurred between 1885 and 1950. Most provinces, during that period, kept records about those who died within their jurisdictions, including their race, their age, their location and their cause of death. If the names of children in those records were matched with the school attendance records, it would be possible to create a more complete list, said Justice Sinclair.

“That is a much bigger task than we were able to accomplish in our period of time and we were around for five years,” he said. So “we have called upon the government to make the funds available for that project to be undertaken and for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation [which recently opened in Winnipeg] to oversee how that will be done.”

The report says that many of the children who died at the schools were buried on the grounds or in nearby plots because the federal government did not want to pay the cost of shipping the body back to the child’s home community. Few of those grave sites were formally recognized by the province or territory, so they have not been maintained.

In addition, schools were often moved and the exact location of the burial sites, in many cases, has been lost over time. The commission recommends that all levels of government, including aboriginal councils, work with school survivors and landowners to find the graves and to erect markers to honour the deceased children.

“Many traditional belief systems say that, without that proper ceremony, the spirit of that person will never get back to where it is that they are supposed to go,” said Justice Sinclair. “So a lot of communities want to be able to conduct those spirit ceremonies for those who died. And they can’t because they don’t know where the body is, they don’t even know whether the person died – at the school or somewhere else.”


Red Power Media contains copyrighted material. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair dealing” in an effort to advance a better understanding of Indigenous – political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to our followers for educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair dealing” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

Premier’s ’60s Scoop’ Apology Criticized By Manitoba Métis Federation

By Red Power Media, Staff

Manitoba’s Metis Federation President says his people are being left out.

Manitoba’s Metis federation says its people are being left out of an apology — set to happen on Thursday at the legislature — for aboriginal children who were taken from their parents and adopted into white families.

The apology, thought to be the first by a Canadian province, is directed at individuals from the so-called “60s Scoop,” which many see as an extension of Indian residential schools policy.

Premier Greg Selinger said the apology, will acknowledge damage done to those taken from their homes and their culture. Manitoba was one of the provinces most affected, so it is appropriate that it be among the first to apologize, he said.

“It’s an acknowledgment that they did lose contact with their families, their language, their culture,” Selinger told The Canadian Press. “That was an important loss in their life and it needs to be acknowledged. It’s part of the healing process.”

Manitoba’s Metis Federation President David Chartrand said no one from the Manitoba government consulted with the Metis or formally invited him to the event. The Metis were left out of the residential school settlement and it feels like the same thing is happening again, he said.

David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, says his people are being left out of an apology for the '60s Scoop.

David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, says his people are being left out of an apology for the ’60s Scoop.

Manitoba appears to be blaming Ottawa for what is known as the ’60s Scoop when it was provincial social workers who seized aboriginal children and placed them with families as far away as the southern United States, Chartrand said.

“It’s the province that took our children. It’s the province that sold our children to the United States and other places. It’s the province that did harm to my families.”

“Clearly we’re not going to let the province get away from this.,” said Chartrand.

Paul McKie, spokesman for Selinger, said numerous aboriginal organizations have been invited to witness the apology. The Manitoba Metis Federation was invited Friday by phone, by email and formally by letter, he said.

The province, along with affected adoptees, has been working on the apology for months, he said.

“Many people, groups and organizations have been invited,” McKie said. “There were informal consultations with many people.”

An apology without a plan and proper consultation with those affected is empty, said Chartrand, who has worked with ’60s Scoop adoptees and their families for years.

“You can’t just say ‘I’m sorry’ and walk away. You did permanent damage here. You tore entire communities apart. Maybe they’re thinking if they say ‘I’m sorry’ that ends my responsibility.”

Grand Chief David Harper, with Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak which represents northern First Nations, still remembers children being taken away from his community, never to be seen again. He said he will be there to witness the apology but will also be looking for more.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their homes by child-welfare services and placed with non-aboriginal families. Many have filed class-action lawsuits in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. Another class-action lawsuit in Ontario is still making its way through the courts.

Residential school survivors have had a formal apology from Ottawa and were able to speak at hearings held by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which released its final report. The ’60s Scoop’ adoptees have been fighting for the same recognition of their experience and a formal apology. 

Source articles:



Canada Was Killing Indians, Not Cultures

Residential School survivor Lorna Standingready, left, is comforted during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada closing ceremony in Ottawa last week. | Photo: Reuters

Residential School survivor Lorna Standingready, left, is comforted during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada closing ceremony in Ottawa last week. | Photo: Reuters

By: Dr. Pamela D. Palmater | teleSUR, Published 8 June 2015

In Canada’s residential schools, many Indigenous children were beaten, tortured, raped, medically experimented on, and killed.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) just released its Executive Summary Report on their inquiry into Indian Residential Schools finding that in Canada’s dealings with Indigenous Nations, it had engaged in a form of genocide and made 94 recommendations for action. The TRC’s mandate came from the class action litigation (and subsequent settlement) by survivors of the residential schools who wanted Canadians to have a true understanding of what happened in those schools. The Summary Report represents over six years of historical research, investigation, and the documentation of the stories of over 6,750 survivors. The final report is expected to be at least six volumes.

Indian residential schools were boarding schools created and designed by the federal government to eliminate the “Indian problem” in Canada – not unlike the Indian boarding schools created by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the United States. The federal government, in partnership with churches of various denominations (primarily Catholic), apprehended Indigenous children from their communities and forced them to live in residential schools under the guise of civilizing them with education. Instead of receiving an education (most never received more than a grade 6 education), most were starved, beaten, tortured, raped, and medically experimented on. In some schools, upwards of 40 percent of Indigenous children never made it out alive. Nationally, the death rate for these children was 1:25 – higher than the 1:26 death rate for WWII enlistees – and that was war.

While some have characterized the Indian problem as the desire by Canada to erase cultural difference, the reality had far more to do with power and economics. The oft-quoted Duncan Campbell Scott, the deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs, appears to claim that the objective is one of assimilation: “I want to get rid of the Indian problem … Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic.” However, when presented with the alarming death rates in the residential schools by his chief medical officer, Dr. Peter H. Bryce, Scott decided that the deaths of Indian children was in line with departmental objectives which he characterized as “the final solution.”

“Indian children … die at a much higher rate [in residential schools] than in their villages. But this alone does not justify a change in the policy of this Department, which is geared towards a final solution of our Indian problem,” said Scott.

So the central question seems to be what exactly was the Indian problem? Was it truly a desire to rid Indians of their cultures – or was it more about eliminating Indians? Canada’s record, considered on the whole, would seem to suggest that the Indian problem was more about Indians refusing to die off, than maintaining different languages and cultures. Colonial governments didn’t issue bounties on Mi’kmaw scalps because of their culture – they did so because Mi’kmaw people refused to give up their land. Canada didn’t forcibly sterilize Indigenous women and girls without their consent to stop them from speaking their languages – they did it to eliminate the population. By the United Nations definition – that is genocide. It doesn’t matter whether Canada ever agrees that its actions amounted to genocide – very few nation states ever admit to committing acts of genocide.

It doesn’t matter whether Canada ever agrees that its actions amounted to genocide – very few nation states ever admit to committing acts of genocide. What happened in residential schools were crimes back then, just as they are today. It was always against colonial and Canadian law to assault, rape, torture, starve, and murder children. Despite the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the federal government, and church officials all knowing what was happening in those schools, everyone with the power to stop it allowed it to continue. That is why residential schools had grave yards instead of playgrounds.

The Indian problem was always about power and economics – the sovereign Indigenous Nations who occupied and controlled the very territories coveted by early colonial governments refused to die off and therefore stood in the way of unfettered land acquisition, settlement, development, and resource extraction. Despite having suffered many deaths in the waves of disease that came from European contact, scalping bounties and various colonial aggressions, Indigenous peoples survived. Indigenous peoples never gave up their sovereignty or their rights and responsibilities over their territories. Aboriginal rights, treaty rights and the refusal to die off has impeded Canada’s attempts at unfettered settlement and development ever since.

Moving forward, the biggest mistake that could come from this report would be for Canadians to historicize what happened. Indian policy is not a sad chapter in our history – it is a lethal reality for Indigenous people today. Today, there are more Indigenous children in state care than during the residential school era. Nationally, there are 30-40,000 children in care and in some provinces, like Manitoba, Indigenous children represent 90 percent of all kids in care.

Canada’s current policy of purposefully underfunding essential human services on Indian reserves like food, water, sanitation, housing, health and education, leads to the premature deaths of Indigenous peoples by 7-20 years. Indigenous peoples are overrepresented in prisons by 10 times the national rate, and the problem is getting worse. In the last decade, the Indigenous inmate population has steadily increased by more than 56 percent. In the last 30 years, there have been over 1,200 cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls and little action from Canada to protect them. None of this is because they practice different cultures, but because they are Indians – impediments to unfettered land access, development, and resource extraction.

RELATED: Canada’s Disappeared Indigenous Women

It’s long past the time that Canada live up to the spirit and intent of the treaties signed with Indigenous Nations (now constitutionally protected) and work towardsa new policy which reflects the promises of mutual respect, mutual benefit and mutual protection. The vision of the treaties was always to share these lands. Despite all the horrors of residential schools, Indigenous Nations kept their treaty promises. It’s time for Canada to stop trying to eliminate Indians and work together in peace. A good start would be to implement the recommendations in the TRC report.

Dr. Pamela D. Palmater is an Associate Professor and Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University.