June 28, 2023 — Gatineau, Quebec — Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Residential School Documents Advisory Committee and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
Today, following the Residential School Documents Advisory Committee’s inaugural meeting, Cadmus Delorme, former Chief of Cowessess First Nation and Chairperson of the Residential School Documents Advisory Committee; Stephanie Scott, Executive Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR); and the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown−Indigenous Relations, announced the membership of the Committee and provided an update on the exercise to identify documents related to residential schools.
Six committee members were identified through consultations with the NCTR, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the Métis National Council. They are:
- Eugene Arcand: Survivor, Muskeg Lake First Nation, Saskatchewan
- Maata Evaluardjuk-Palmer: Survivor, Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), Nunavut
- Shirley Horn: Survivor, Missanabie Cree First Nation, Ontario
- Brenda Macdougall: Chair of Métis Research, University of Ottawa
- Dr. Gwen Point: Intergenerational Survivor, Skowkale First Nation, British Columbia
- Ted Quewezance: Survivor, Keeseekoose First Nation, Saskatchewan
Committee membership will also include representation from the NCTR, as well as:
- Agriculture Canada
- Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
- Department of Justice
- Employment and Social Development Canada
- Health Canada
- Indigenous Services Canada
- Library and Archives Canada
- National Film Board
- Parks Canada
- Privy Council Office
- Public Services and Procurement Canada
- Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
- Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools
In December 2021, Minister Miller directed the department to conduct a broader internal review of existing documents to ensure transparency and full sharing of all relevant documents, while respecting Survivors’ wishes, legislation, court orders, settlement agreements and ongoing litigation processes. In addition to the internal review, the Minister requested the development of a new structure to govern document sharing and the formation of an advisory committee to identify and propose recommendations for sharing relevant documents of historical interest. The Residential School Documents Advisory Committee is the result of this direction.
Through an initial scoping review, the departments and agencies noted above have identified as many as 23 million additional documents related to residential schools and the implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement(IRSSA) for the committee to consider. This collection goes beyond the type of documents that were required to be disclosed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission under IRSSA and are in addition to the more than 1.5 million documents and higher-quality images recently provided to the NCTR through the MOU signed in January 2022. These newly scoped documents will include duplicates of records previously provided to the NCTR. It will take time for departments and agencies to finalize the search and remove duplication, and for the Committee to recommend processes to gather the documents into an accessible and standardized collection.
The independent Committee will provide recommendations to the Government of Canada on removing barriers to sharing documents, while respecting Survivors’ and their families’ wishes, legislation, court orders, settlement agreements and ongoing litigation processes. One of the top priorities of the independent Committee is to ensure that stakeholder views—including those of Indigenous nations, communities and Survivors—are reflected in discussions and decisions regarding the important work of identification, review of, and recommendations on sharing of residential school-related documents of historical interest to the NCTR.
Reviewing and reforming our processes connected to the sharing of documents related to residential schools is key to fulfilling our moral obligations—to rebuild trust, accountability and transparency, and address the legacy of residential schools.
“It is a honour to help lead an important action to help in Truth and Reconciliation. Many Indigenous governing bodies are leading the research in validation of unmarked graves across the Country. Each research team requires records and the Government of Canada is showing their commitment to providing records associated to the once 140 residential schools. The mandate to provide a report on the action to do this is already underway. I look forward to working with Indigenous knowledge keepers, government officials, and others who will assure we get to our end goal.”
Chairperson, Residential School Documents Advisory Committee
“The NCTR has a sacred responsibility to preserve the truth of Canada’s Indian residential school system, and we will continue to collaborate with Chief Delorme, the Government of Canada, and now honoured committee members, whose wisdom and guidance we will rely on as we maintain our work to ensure residential school Survivors and their descendants continue to have full access to all of their records.”
Executive Director, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
“Sharing residential school-related documents outside of legal obligation is an important shift in Canada’s approach, one that increases transparency and accountability, which is critical to advancing reconciliation. The Committee’s direction is necessary to ensuring that Canada can continue to respond to the ongoing impacts of residential schools in the ways First Nations, Inuit and Métis Survivors, families and communities expect.”
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
- In 2015, Canada disclosed over four million documents to the to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Under the terms of the IRSSA (Schedule N, Mandate for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission), all parties agreed to collect historical documents related to residential schools. These documents are housed at the NCTR as per Schedule N’s mandate that “The record shall be preserved and made accessible to the public for future study and use.”
- In December 2021, Minister Miller proposed new measures for federal government document sharing related to residential schools. The Residential School Documents Advisory Committee is the result of this direction.
- In January 2022, Minister Miller and Stephanie Scott of the NCTR signed of a Memorandum of Agreement that outlined how and when Canada would share historical documents related to residential schools.
- In February 2023, Chief Cadmus Delorme of Cowessess First Nation was appointed as chairperson of the Residential School Documents Advisory Committee for a five-year term. His appointment was made following consultation with National Indigenous Organizations and at the recommendation of the NCTR.
- The Residential School Documents Advisory Committee is mandated to address documents related to the 140 schools under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), and focuses on identifying and sharing all possible documents not already shared, such as information concerning the disposition of lands following the closure of a residential school, documents related to the IRSSA, and more.
- The Committee is scheduled to meet again this fall.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
firstname.lastname@example.org CIRNAC Media Relations