Minister Miller promises new measures for federal government document disclosure related to residential schools
Ottawa, Ontario (December 10, 2021)—The Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations, the Honourable Marc Miller, issued the following statement today:
"Part of a shameful and racist colonial policy, Residential Schools forcibly removed Indigenous children—First Nations, Inuit and Métis—from their communities and denied them their families, languages and culture while also enduring widespread abuse. It is our moral obligation to Survivors to pursue the truth and to support them, as well as those suffering from intergenerational trauma in their search for closure. Addressing the ongoing impacts of Residential Schools is at the heart of reconciliation and a renewal of the relationship between Indigenous Peoples who attended these schools, their families and communities, and all Canadians.
Reconciliation requires a whole-of-government approach, breaking down barriers and rethinking how we do our work. The Government of Canada is committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure we continue to do all we can to share the Residential School-related documents we have, while respecting Survivors' wishes, legislation, court orders, settlement agreements and ongoing litigation processes.
Under the Indian Residential School Settlement, the Catholic Church entities had the obligation to disclose documents to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Based on guidance the parties received from the TRC, Canada has disclosed over 4 million documents to the TRC. Four Catholic entities, involved in several residential schools, have—to date—refused to waive litigation privilege in order for Canada to share the documents. On conclusion of its mandate in 2015, the TRC transferred its document collection to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. I have therefore directed my Department to take all necessary measures to hand over the relevant school narratives and the associated documentation to the NCTR. This includes approximately 12,000 documents. We have committed to disclosing the missing Residential School narratives to the NCTR within 30 to 45 days.
I have also directed my department to conduct a broader internal review of existing documents to ensure transparency and full disclosure of all relevant documents, where possible. This is a step toward accountability and a stronger understanding of the legacy of Residential Schools. The internal review may later expand into other topics that partners deem relevant. Additional documents could also be disclosed while respecting the wishes of Survivors, applicable legislation, ongoing litigation, the courts' supervisory role and existing settlements. This will be done after consultations with Indigenous partners, stakeholders and Survivor representatives.
As part of measures to fulfill the promise of reconciliation, I am proposing this new approach to the disclosure of documents related to Residential Schools. In addition to the extensive internal review, this will necessitate the development of a new structure to govern document disclosure and the formation of an interdepartmental committee to identify and disclose relevant documents of historical interest to the NCTR.
Reviewing and reforming our processes connected to the disclosure of documents related to Residential Schools is key to fulfilling our promises to Indigenous Peoples—to rebuild trust and strengthen our nation-to-nation, Inuit–Crown, and government-to-government relationships."
For more information, media may contact:
Director of Parliamentary Affairs and Issues Management
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
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