Through its ongoing Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Canada is responding to the devastating legacy of Indian Residential Schools. ICTJ has supported the Truth and Reconciliation Commission from its inception, and is working to spread its lessons to a new generation.
Since 1874, Canada attempted to assimilate indigenous children by forcing them to attend church-run Indian Residential Schools (IRS). More than 150,000 children were taken from their families and communities and sent to schools where:
By 1920, attendance at an IRS was compulsory for indigenous Canadian children. Resistance gradually mounted over the years and they were eventually discredited and discontinued, but it was only in 1996 that the last school closed.
From the 1990s, former IRS students publicly denounced the experiences of abuse they had suffered in the schools and started a movement of massive litigation.
In 2006, after years of negotiations, the federal government, churches, and indigenous groups agreed to a $2 billion settlement package for the estimated 80,000 survivors of these schools.
The package included the establishment of a truth commission—the first-ever created by a judicial process—and reparations for survivors.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established on June 2008. Its mandate is to learn the truth about what happened in the residential schools and inform all Canadians of these findings. At the time of establishing the commission, the Canadian government issued a formal apology to the indigenous peoples for the policy of “Killing the Indian in the Child”.
ICTJ has worked in Canada since 2005 to help the country face its past, reflect on its identity and empower a new generation.