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The Department has one strategic outcome which is to advance reconciliation among former students of Indian Residential Schools and the Government of Canada.
The Department has one program activity which is the resolution of claims associated with the operation of the former Indian Residential Schools system. The Department will focus all its efforts on this program activity via the implementation of the IRSSA and the continued operation, where applicable, of the National Resolution Framework.
The IRSSA is a class action settlement that binds all parties upon approval by the Courts. There are no possibilities for derogation and the Courts who direct and support IRSRC as "the administrator" have the authority to make the Government of Canada accountable for any breaches of the IRSSA within its responsibility.
Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada is the lead department for the administration of programmatic elements within the IRSSA and shares program delivery responsibilities with Health Canada and Service Canada.
The implementation of the IRSSA includes a number of activities as follows: a CEP program; the IAP for resolution of claims; the reimbursement of legal expenses; the establishment of the TRC; the transfer of a $125 million endowment for a five-year period to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation in accordance with the Funding Agreement included in the IRSSA; a Commemoration Program; and an Advocacy and Public Information program.
Governance and Administration of the Settlement Agreement
The Courts have appointed Crawford Class Action Services to monitor Canada's compliance with the IRSSA. The Monitor's role is to work together with officials and has unfettered access to the administration of the IRSSA, as well as reports to the courts.
The Parties to the IRSSA established two administrative committees to implement the Court’s Approval Orders. The National Administration Committee (NAC) is mandated to interpret and ensure proper implementation of the Approval Orders and consider appeals to the CEP. The Regional Administration Committees (RACs) are mandated to deal with day-to-day operational issues relating to implementation of the Approval Orders arising within their individual regions, which do not have national significance.
The IAP Oversight Committee monitors the implementation of the IAP and makes recommendations to the NAC on changes to the IAP as are necessary to ensure its effectiveness over time.
Common Experience Payment
A Common Experience Payment will be paid to every eligible former student living on May 30, 2005, the day the negotiations were initiated, who resided at a recognized Indian Residential School and who submitted a valid application. The IRSSA stipulates that $1.9 billion be set aside for the direct benefit of former Indian Residential Schools students. Subject to verification, each eligible former student who applies would receive $10,000 for the first year or part of a year of residence as well as an additional $3,000 for each subsequent year or part of a year of residence. If there are funds remaining after eligible students have received their entitlement and any personal credits distributed in accordance with the IRSSA, these funds will be provided to Aboriginal education foundations with the intent of supporting learning and development for Aboriginal individuals and communities.
Although the majority of Common Experience Payments will occur in 2007-08, Common Experience Payments will still be in process in 2008-09. In addition, there are two levels of appeal should a CEP Applicant disagree with the number of years they were found eligible. The first step in the process is Reconsideration by Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada at the request of the Applicant. Should the Applicant still not be satisfied with the outcome of the Reconsideration Process, he or she can then appeal the decision to the NAC.
Independent Assessment Process
For a period of five years that started September 19, 2007, the enhanced dispute resolution process called the Independent Assessment Process is the only mechanism by which a former student may pursue a claim for sexual or serious physical abuse, unless he or she formally opted out of the IRSSA. Compensation through the Independent Assessment Process is to be paid at 100% by the Government of Canada in all cases, following validation of the claim by an independent adjudicator.
Commencing March 19, 2008, Canada must provide sufficient resources to process 2,500 claims per year, if such an inventory exists. In addition, each claimant is to be offered a hearing date within nine months of being admitted to the process by the IAP Secretariat.
The IAP includes a Group IAP stream, whereby groups of claimants can benefit from contribution funding to advance their files in common. The Group IAP process was developed as a result of experience gained during the National Resolution Framework's ADP Process. The Group IAP process will continue to be supported in 2008-09 and beyond.
The IRSSA establishes a framework for the payment of legal fees for counsel who were members of the National Consortium, the Merchant Law Group or who had a retainer agreement or substantial solicitor-client relationship with eligible CEP recipients. Although the vast majority of legal fees will be paid in 2007-08, it is anticipated that a number of legal fees will remain outstanding into 2008-09.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The IRSSA includes the establishment of the TRC to contribute to truth, healing and reconciliation. The objectives of the TRC include the following: to acknowledge Indian Residential Schools experiences; to promote and facilitate truth and reconciliation events at both the national and community levels; to develop as complete a historical record as possible of the Indian Residential School system and legacy; to promote awareness and public education of Canadians about the Indian Residential School system and its impacts; and to support commemoration initiatives of former Indian Residential Schools students and their families.
The Commissioners for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have yet to be appointed. It is the intent to establish the TRC as a separate government department in 2008-09.
Aboriginal Healing Foundation
The Aboriginal Healing Foundation is an Aboriginal operated, not-for-profit corporation operating independently of Government. Pursuant to the terms of the IRSSA, the Government issued a one-time Contribution of $25 million and a Grant of $100 million to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation in order for it to address healing needs of Aboriginal people affected by the legacy of Indian Residential Schools and to establish complementary linkages to other health/social programs and services (federal/provincial/territorial/Aboriginal) over the next five years.
Commemoration is a way of honouring, celebrating and paying tribute to former students by acknowledging their experiences and the broader systemic impacts of the Indian Residential School system. The goals of the Commemoration program are to enhance the well-being of former students, their families and communities, and help former students, their families and communities to move forward. In addition, it is expected that commemoration projects will foster enhanced community interaction, cultural pride and self-esteem, sense of acceptance, and understanding of others. Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada will administer agreements, recommended by the IRS Survivor Advisory Committee to the TRC.
Advocacy and Public Information Program
The Advocacy and Public Information program is now entering its final year and it supports eligible Aboriginal Organizations or other recipients for the purpose of providing advocacy and public education on a diverse range of issues related to the IRSSA issues, policies and programs, allowing the Government to respond to the widest source of information possible to (1) improve the quality of departmental decisions, (2) identify where changes may be necessary to enhance service delivery, and (3) ensure the Aboriginal community is informed of the benefits available through the IRSSA.
Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada will receive proposals, conduct reviews, and recommend projects for financial support. Proposals will have to demonstrate a coordinated approach with partner organizations to avoid unnecessary overlap and duplication in terms of clientele and program implementation. Furthermore, each proposal submitted by an organization will clearly outline existing accountability and management processes, and demonstrate a human resource and administrative capacity to manage and deliver the proposed activities.
Resolution Health Support Program
Although not operated by Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada, the Resolution Health Support Program delivered by Health Canada will continue to provide a variety of flexible "frontline" safety supports and coordination services directly to former students involved in the CEP process, the IAP, the ADR Process, the litigation process, and the TRC. Services include access to mental health counselling sessions, on-site emotional health supports by trained Aboriginal health providers, and transportation costs to traditional healers, to ensure that former students and family members have access to appropriate levels of counselling and mental health supports.
As part of its support to this program, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada funds a 24-hour crisis support line that is operated by trained crisis support workers.
The National Resolution Framework has been the central vehicle to achieve the Department's program activity and planned results of resolution of Indian Residential Schools claims since 2003. Although the primary means for resolving physical and sexual abuse claims will be the Independent Assessment Process, a number of claims will continue to be processed via the National Resolution Framework and its two resolution streams – the ADR Process and Litigation.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
The ADR Process is a voluntary and confidential process designed to be a timely, fair and safe way for claimants to resolve validated physical and sexual abuse claims, including wrongful confinement claims, outside of the litigation process. The ADR Process involves private hearings before an independent adjudicator. The Adjudicator, as an independent decision-maker, is responsible for setting compensation awards within an established compensation framework. The claimant has the option to accept the award, appeal the decision or pursue litigation.
The Department no longer accepts ADR submissions. However, ADR applications received on or before March 21, 2007, for which a hearing had not been set as of the Implementation Date are dealt with in the following way:
As at January 31, 2008, 731 claimants had expressed their choice to have their claims heard through the ADR Process. It is expected that these cases will be dealt with by the end of 2008-09.
Not all claimants chose to resolve their abuse claims through the ADR Process. The Department of Justice represents the Government of Canada in Indian Residential Schools claims and continues to work to resolve claims prior to entering the trial stage. Counsel for claimants in litigation who are elderly or ill may approach the Department of Justice to seek expedition in the resolution of their claims out of court. Resolution of litigation claims is a more time consuming process since the Government has little control over the pace of litigation and is largely dependent on the rules of the court and court schedules.
It is expected that all initiatives will improve the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the Government of Canada through a fair resolution of personal and collective damages from the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools.
It is intended to measure improvement via proxy measures as follows:
The Department will resolve claims through the IAP, the ADR Process, and litigation. The Department forecasts the settlement of 2,500 claims via the IAP, 731 via the ADR Process, and 4 via litigation.
The Department's program activity aligns with the Government of Canada's social outcome: Healthy Canadians by contributing to improved health of Aboriginal peoples and to safe, stable, and sustainable Aboriginal communities.