Monday, April 28, 2008

Ontario Aboriginal Judge To Head Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The Canadian government announced today that Justice Harry LaForme of the Ontario Court of Appeal will head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that is to examine the legacy of decades of abuse of aboriginal children in residential schools [biographical background information on Justice LaForme].

The Commission's official work of hearing testimony from former students and surviving school staff is to start in June and last 5 years. Its job will be to establish an official historical record of what was done to Native children in the residential school system.

The Commission is part of the negotiated Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement reached between legal counsel for former students, legal counsel for the Churches, the Assembly of First Nations, other Aboriginal organizations and the Government of Canada.

The Canadian government has already paid out more than $1 billion to people who could prove they attended the once-mandatory schools where Native youngsters were sent to be forcibly 'Christianized'.

In recent years, many former students have testified about extensive physical, emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of church officials from various denominations who ran the schools on behalf of the federal government.

Background material on the legacy of residential schools:
  • Where Are The Children (Legacy of Hope Foundation in partnership with the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Library Archives Canada, and Canadian Heritage’s On-line Partnership Program): " The website makes accessible photographs and documents related to residential schools, which will inspire a lasting legacy of awareness, healing, and reconciliation. The website allows the many Survivors of residential schools access to historical photographs and documents.
  • Native Residential Schools in Canada: A Selective Bibliography (Library and Archives Canada):"The type of materials listed in this bibliography include books, scholarly articles, school histories, personal accounts, theses, videos, and Internet resources. Please note that we would also like to acknowledge the incredible amount of coverage on the topic of residential schools by Native newspapers and periodicals, many of which are available at the National Library and some of which are listed herein.The scope of the bibliography, particularly more recent publications, suggests the vast impact that residential schools have had on the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. Themes of the bibliography range from the injustices of abuses and enforced hardship to reconciliation and restitution."
  • Residential Schools (Aboriginal Canada Portal): this section of the portal offers a selection of high quality web links about the residential schools issue. The portal is a partnership between Government departments and the Aboriginal community.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:23 pm

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