Tag Archives: Truth and Reconciliation Commission

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.”

http://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/all-who-died-at-residential-schools-should-be-named-bodies-located-report/ar-BBnyu4f?li=AAggv0m


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Truth And Reconciliation Commission Final Report: By The Numbers

Inuit children stand outside a residential school in a photo released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission along with its final report. (Indian and Northern Affairs, Library and Archives Canada)

Inuit children stand outside a residential school in a photo released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission along with its final report. (Indian and Northern Affairs, Library and Archives Canada)

CBC News, Posted: Dec 14, 2015

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission releases its final report Tuesday on the history and legacy of Canada’s residential school system.

Here are some numbers and facts contained in the final report of the commission:

6,750 — Statements received by the Truth and Reconciliation from survivors of residential schools, members of their families and other individuals

150,000 — First Nation, Métis, and Inuit students who went to residential schools.

37,951 — Claims made for injuries resulting from physical and sexual abuse in residential schools.

30,939 — Claims resolved for sexual or serious physical abuse in residential schools by the end of 2014.

$2.69 — Compensation in billions for claims resolved by the end of 2014.

3,200 — Documented number of indigenous children who died in residential schools. Justice Murray Sinclair, the chair of the commission, estimates the number of deaths is much higher.

300 — Communities visited by the commission since 2008.

300 — Child-welfare agencies in Canada operating under provincial and territorial jurisdiction.

100 — The period, in years, studied by the inquiry into Canada’s residential school system.

80 — Residential schools in operation across the country in 1930.

7 — Number of languages in which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report will be published: English, French, Mi’kmaq, Ojibwa, Inuktitut, Cree and Dené.

Millions — Number of documents collected by the commission since 2008.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/truth-and-reconciliation-final-report-by-the-numbers-1.3362156?cmp=abfb

Premiers Commit To Commission Recommendations After Meeting With Native Leaders

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley arrives for a meeting of Canadian premiers and national aboriginal leaders in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. ANDREW VAUGHAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley arrives for a meeting of Canadian premiers and national aboriginal leaders in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. ANDREW VAUGHAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS

By Sue Bailey, The Canadian Press

The premier of Newfoundland and Labrador says Canada’s premiers support all 94 recommendations arising from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and will work to implement them in their own provinces.

Paul Davis spoke at a closing news conference after meeting with the leaders of national aboriginal organizations in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Wednesday.

Dawn Lavell Harvard, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said progress was made despite what she called a lack of respect from the federal government.

Lavell Harvard said Ottawa should have been a participant, but thanked Manitoba for offering to host a second national round table on missing and murdered aboriginal women.

She also thanked Ontario for agreeing to hold a summit on aboriginal women’s issues.

Perry Bellegarde outside meeting with premiers Premiers Native Leaders 20150715

Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, talks with protester Denise Cole, right, at a meeting of Canadian premiers and national aboriginal leaders in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Violence against indigenous women and girls is “a grave violation of human rights,” Lavell Harvard said, condemning the federal government for not attending Wednesday’s meeting.

“It is an insult to the memories of those women and girls that they’re not here,” Lavell Harvard said of the federal government’s absence.

She called it “a slap in the face.”

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said he was satisfied that real commitments were made by the premiers, and that provinces are taking the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report seriously.

He said it’s all about closing the chasm between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people.

“That gap is not good for our people. It’s not good for the provinces, and it’s not good for the country. ”

Native Leaders Call For Action, Not More Talk

Protesters handed out 1200 informational flyers on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls at the Ontario/Manitoba border. The flyers informed the public of the violence taking place in Aboriginal communities and the need for a national inquiry. June 19th 2015. File photo: Red Power Media.

Protesters handed out 1200 informational flyers on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls at the Ontario/Manitoba border. The flyers informed the public of the violence taking place in Aboriginal communities and the need for a national inquiry. June 19th 2015. File photo: Red Power Media.

By Sue Bailey, The Canadian Press

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Dawn Lavell Harvard says the time for well-intentioned but often empty talk is over.

The president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, along with other national aboriginal leaders, will step up pressure for action when they meet Wednesday with provincial and territorial premiers in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L.

They’re calling for detailed work plans to go with the photo ops and communiques from their yearly sit-down with the Council of the Federation.

“The most pressing concern we have right now in our communities is the ongoing level of violence,” Lavell Harvard said from Ottawa.

She believes provinces should step in as the federal Conservatives under Prime Minister Stephen Harper refuse to call a public inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women and girls.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt was among federal officials who attended a national roundtable on the issue last winter. They highlighted justice investments and a five-year, $25-million plan to reduce related violence as proof of action, saying an inquiry isn’t necessary.

“We want to see concrete action,” Lavell Harvard said. “Policing, access to justice, equity and discrimination issues.

“We need to push the provinces to do more.”

The 2011 National Household Survey suggests indigenous women make up 4.3 per cent of the national female population. But the RCMP has said they’re victims in 16 per cent of female homicides and account for 11 per cent of missing women.

The Mounties have reported that almost 1,200 aboriginal women have been murdered or have vanished since 1980, and that attackers are often known to the victims.

Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said the issue will be front and centre Wednesday.

He also said the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission report released last month must not gather dust.

“The TRC recommendations and calls to action captured the whole country and the world,” he said in an interview. “We just need to give them life.”

The commission described as “cultural genocide” the suffering borne by generations of aboriginal children in once-mandatory residential schools.

It estimated more than 6,000 boys and girls, about one in 25, died in the institutions. Scores of others endured horrific physical and sexual abuse.

The commission made 94 recommendations toward reconciliation, urging Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework.

Terry Audla, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, representing about 55,000 Canadian Inuit, said disproportionate numbers of aboriginal children in provincial care will also be discussed.

“If we could only get the federal government to the table, that would definitely go a long way.”

Harper’s long-standing absence from first ministers’ meetings sends a strong message, Bellegarde said.

“If we’re going to rebuild this country, we need all levels of leadership to be there.”

Provinces need to start hinging resource development on company commitments to consult, employ and share benefits with aboriginal people, Bellegarde said.

Todd Russell, president of the NunatuKavut Community Council, notes the meeting will take place near the $8.6-billion Muskrat Falls hydro development.

His group, representing about 6,000 Inuit-Metis in southern Labrador, says it wasn’t properly consulted and is challenging the project in court.

The Nunatsiavut government has also raised alarms about how potential mercury contamination from flooding could affect Lake Melville, a food source for 2,000 Inuit.

Host Premier Paul Davis said the province reached a major benefits agreement on Muskrat Falls with the Innu Nation.

“I think there is great value in ensuring it happens on a more consistent basis not only in Newfoundland and Labrador, but across the country,” he said in an interview.

Davis said the premiers’ working group on aboriginal affairs has been crafting action plans for several matters, including violence against women. Truth and Reconciliation Commission members Marie Wilson and Chief Wilton Littlechild will speak to the meeting in Labrador about how provinces can respond, he added.

The premiers move to St. John’s for sessions Thursday and Friday, including energy and economic issues, health care, trade and climate change.

The Canadian Press

Follow @suebailey on Twitter.

http://www.insideottawavalley.com/news-story/5732336-native-leaders-call-for-action-not-more-talk/

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:

http://www.vancouversun.com/Manitoba+apologize+aboriginals+taken+from+parents+adopted+into+white+families+Scoop/11131157/story.html

http://globalnews.ca/news/2055457/manitoba-metis-federation-president-criticizes-60s-scoop-apology/