Monday, October 20, 2008

Head of Commission on Indian Residential Schools Resigns

Justice Harry LaForme resigned today from his position as head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up to examine the legacy of decades of abuse of aboriginal children in residential schools.

In a letter to federal Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl, LaForme mentioned political and bureaucratic interference as well as disagreements between himself and 2 other commissioners.

LaForme, a judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal, had been appointed in April as the chair of the Commission (see the Library Boy post of April 28, 2008 entitled Ontario Aboriginal Judge To Head Truth and Reconciliation Commission).

More background on Laforme's resignation:
  • Head of commission into Indian residential schools resigns (Globe and Mail): "In July, less than two months after it was struck, Justice LaForme expressed concerns that political or bureaucratic interference could compromise the commission, and he said those concerns were delaying the panel's startup. Justice LaForme also said the panel cannot allow itself to be 'shackled' by bureaucratic requirements, and that the commissioners, not government, must be able to decide how to spend their $58-million budget. At the time, Justice LaForme noted a potential for friction over the panel's independence. He said it came as 'a surprise' to discover the feds had created a secretariat as a government department staffed by civil servants reporting to the Minister of Indian Affairs, instead of allowing the commission to set up its own office."
  • Native commission head quits, citing 'incurable problem' (CanWest News Service): "[T]he former Ontario judge said in his letter of resignation to Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl that: 'The two commissioners are unprepared to accept that the structure of the commission requires that the TRC's course is to be charted and its objectives are to be shaped ultimately through the authority and leadership of its chair. Laforme added: 'the two have chosen to compete for control of the commission by insisting that it is to be run on the basis of simple majority rule'."
  • Chairman quits troubled residential school commission (CBC News): "He [LaForme] said the commissioners want to focus primarily on uncovering and documenting truth, while he also wants to have an emphasis on reconciliation between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:24 pm


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