Statement on Canada's request for an independent review of St. Anne's Indian Residential School claims

Statement

OTTAWA, ONTARIO (March 18, 2021) – The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, issued the following statement today:

"Residential schools are a tragedy born of colonial policies that harmed children, their families and their communities. The mistreatment of Indigenous children, including those who attended St. Anne's Indian Residential School, is a tragic and shameful part of our country's history.

The purpose of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was to bring a fair and lasting resolution to this painful legacy. The Agreement included five different elements — a Common Experience Payment for all eligible former residential school students; an Independent Assessment Process for claims of sexual or serious physical abuse; healing supports; commemorative activities; and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Prior to 2015, certain documents relevant to St. Anne's Indian Residential School were not included in the Independent Assessment Process, the non-adversarial, out-of-court compensation model created by the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The court indicated this was an error on Canada's part and directed it be corrected. Canada did so. Since 2015, the courts have consistently found that Canada has kept its promise regarding document disclosure obligations.

We recognize that the previous situation has impacted the trust and healing of some St. Anne's survivors. As a result, Canada is taking steps in an effort to restore their confidence and rebuild their trust in the Independent Assessment Process, which included the participation of thousands of survivors across the country.

I have directed my officials to request an independent review of the relevant documents for Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement Independent Assessment Process claims of survivors of St. Anne's prior to 2015.

We are asking the supervising courts to grant the independent, third-party review of the documents in order to respond to the concerns raised by some St. Anne's claimants, their legal representatives and supporters. We believe that this approach will balance timely court intervention, inclusiveness and a desire not to require any additional steps from St. Anne's survivors, their families or communities to participate in the review.

As the ongoing issues before the court may be difficult for many St. Anne's survivors, their families and communities, in addition to existing program supports, Canada will provide dedicated health support funding for St. Anne's survivors during this process.

Regardless of the court's determination, our actions today are intended to demonstrate concrete steps to begin to rebuild the relationship between Canada and survivors of St. Anne's. We must never forget the tragic impact of residential schools and we must learn from the courageous experiences shared by survivors. Fostering healing and addressing the legacy of Indian Residential Schools lies at the heart of reconciliation and a renewal of the relationships between Indigenous peoples who attended these schools, their families and communities, and all Canadians."

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Ani Dergalstanian
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett,
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
819-997-0002

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
819-934-2302
RCAANC.media.CIRNAC@canada.ca

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