PM Justin Trudeau Changing Name of National Aboriginal Day to National Indigenous Peoples Day

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde at Aboriginal Day Live Pow Wow on June 21, 2016 at The Forks, Winnipeg. Photo: Black Powder, Red Power Media. ·

Federal government is renaming National Aboriginal Day

By Black Powder | RPM Staff, June 21st, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is marking National Aboriginal Day with a symbolic name change to the annual celebration of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

The federal government will be renaming National Aboriginal Day — being celebrated today — as National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Trudeau, issued a statement on National Aboriginal Day where he announced the Government’s intention is to rename the day.

He opened his statement by noting that the summer solstice, June 21, was designated as National Aboriginal Day more than 20 years ago.

But the prime minister did not signal if his government will support recognizing the day as a statutory holiday, as it is in the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

Trudeau’s statement noted work remains to build a true nation-to-nation relationship.

Trudeau also noted that Canada’s 150th birthday in July will provide an opportunity to think about “the legacy of the past.”

According to CTV News, the federal government is also renaming the Langevin Block building, which sits across from Parliament Hill, out of respect for Indigenous Peoples.

Trudeau says keeping the name of Sir Hector-Louis Langevin — someone associated with the residential school system — on the building that houses Prime Minister’s Office clashes with the government’s vision.

Instead, the building will be called the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council.

 See Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, statement issued today HERE


Residential School Survivors Stories Of Abuse Can Be Destroyed After 15 Years: Court

Residential School Survivor

Residential School Survivor

The Canadian Press, April 4, 2016

TORONTO — Survivors of Canada’s notorious residential school system have the right to see their stories archived if they wish, but their accounts must otherwise be destroyed in 15 years, Ontario’s top court ruled in a split decision Monday.

At issue are documents related to compensation claims made by as many as 30,000 survivors of Indian residential schools — many heart-rending accounts of sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

Compensation claimants never surrendered control of their stories, the Appeal Court said.

“Residential school survivors are free to disclose their own experiences, despite any claims that others may make with respect to confidentiality and privacy,” the court said.

The decision came in response to various appeals and cross-appeals of a ruling by Superior Court Justice Paul Perell in 2014 related to claims made under the confidential independent assessment process — or IAP — set up as part of an agreement that settled a class action against the government.

The federal government and Truth and Reconciliation Commission fought destruction of the documents, saying they should be kept — with appropriate safeguards — to preserve the historical record of residential schools. Catholic parties argued for their destruction.

“This is a once-and-for-all determination of the rights of all parties relating to these issues,” the court said. “There will be no future cases like this one.”

Writing for the Appeal Court majority, Chief Justice George Strathy decided Perell was reasonable to order the records kept for 15 years and then destroyed, unless claimants chose to have their own accounts archived.

Survivors who opted for confidentiality should not face a risk that their stories would be stored against their will in a government archive and possibly disclosed at some time, even far into the future, the Appeal Court said.

The court rejected the idea the documents were “government records” but said the material fell under the court’s control.

“It is critical to understand that the (independent assessment process) was not a federal government program,” the Appeal Court said.

“Although Canada’s administrative infrastructure was required to carry out the settlement, it was vital to ensure that the court, not Canada, was in control of the process.”

The Appeal Court did part ways with Perell on who should be responsible for a notice program that would allow claimants time to decide whether they wanted their records archived or destroyed. Perell had given the task to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

Strathy called that unreasonable. Instead, the court ruled, the notice program should fall to the chief adjudicator of the claims process.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Robert Sharpe said the claims documents Canada has in its possession are indeed “government records” that should not be destroyed but turned over to Library and Archives Canada subject to normal privacy safeguards and rules.

The process was an “important moment in Canadian history when all Canadians, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, confronted the shocking treatment of generations of aboriginal children in the residential school system and searched for ways to repair the damage,” Sharpe said.

“If the IAP documents are destroyed, we obliterate an important part of our effort to deal with a very dark moment in our history.”

About 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children were forced to attend the church-run residential schools over much of the last century as part of government efforts to “take the Indian out of the child.” Many suffered horrific abuse.

Material collected by the truth commission, which also heard from thousands of survivors, are being housed at the National Research Centre at the University of Manitoba.

All Who Died At Residential Schools Should Be Named, Bodies Located: Report

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chairman Justice Murray Sinclair, right, hands a copy of the commission's main report on Canada's residential school system to then-Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, centre, as Assembly of First Nations Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde looks on June 2, 2015.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chairman Justice Murray Sinclair, right, hands a copy of the commission’s main report on Canada’s residential school system to then-Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, centre, as Assembly of First Nations Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde looks on June 2, 2015.

By Gloria Galloway | The Globe and Mail

The commission that has spent the past five years trying to learn the truth about abuses of children at the former Indian residential schools says it is time for the names of all of those students who died, and the locations of their burials, to be known.

The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was made public on Tuesday. Its main findings – including the determination that what happened behind the walls of the church-run schools amounted to cultural genocide – were released last spring along with a list of 94 “calls to action” to address ongoing problems. What is being put forward now is thousands of pages of contextual details, historical data and voices of survivors.

One section is devoted to the commission’s assertion that the students who perished in the institutions must be identified and their remains located.

“As a parent, as a family, when you’ve lost somebody, you need to know everything about that loss that you can get your hands on,” Murray Sinclair, the chair of the commission, said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “You need to know all that can be disclosed, you need to know why they died, where they died, what they died of, and you need to know as well, where they are buried.”

Justice Sinclair says his commission’s final report is about 2,300,000 words long and presents, in tremendous detail, the post-colonization history of Canada’s indigenous peoples.

More on this story:

Highlights from the report

Witness blanket tells residential school history

“This report is also primarily about residential schools but it has a lot more detailed information to show how residential schools fit into the overall picture of colonialism and oppression – legal, social and political oppression – that went on in Canada from Confederation even to today.”

Among other things, the report discusses the ways child welfare in Canada has failed indigenous people, the disproportionate incarceration of First Nations inmates, and the fact that many Métis survivors of Catholic residential schools are excluded from the settlement that was signed in 2006 with the federal government. And there is also the section on the missing children and the unmarked and untended graves.

Carlie Chase, the executive director of the Legacy of Hope Foundation, which was created to raise awareness about the legacy of the residential schools, is a member of the first generation of her family not to attend one of the residential schools.

“We are always reminded that the survivors today were actually brave children and it is heartbreaking to know that thousands of equally brave children did not survive, that their lives were taken too soon. They died at school,” said Ms. Chase. “So we must be as brave as they were and have the courage to acknowledge the hard truth of their deaths. And that truth is we let them down and we have to do better so it never happens again. So we never have to say there was a death toll at school. For their families to begin their healing, the first part of telling the truth is knowing who those children were.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was provided with records of 3,200 students who died at the schools – most from diseases that spread rapidly in crowded dormitories including tuberculosis and influenza, but also by drowning, fires, accidents, suicide and exposure when they tried to run away. But Justice Sinclair believes the real numbers are actually much higher.

“The government claims that archival records were destroyed through floods and through fires. Church records disappeared, they say, for the same reason,” said Justice Sinclair. “So, whatever one thinks of the truthfulness of that, the reality is that those records are not around for us to check.”

But there are ways to get at the information, he said.

It is clear from the data that is available that most of the deaths occurred between 1885 and 1950. Most provinces, during that period, kept records about those who died within their jurisdictions, including their race, their age, their location and their cause of death. If the names of children in those records were matched with the school attendance records, it would be possible to create a more complete list, said Justice Sinclair.

“That is a much bigger task than we were able to accomplish in our period of time and we were around for five years,” he said. So “we have called upon the government to make the funds available for that project to be undertaken and for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation [which recently opened in Winnipeg] to oversee how that will be done.”

The report says that many of the children who died at the schools were buried on the grounds or in nearby plots because the federal government did not want to pay the cost of shipping the body back to the child’s home community. Few of those grave sites were formally recognized by the province or territory, so they have not been maintained.

In addition, schools were often moved and the exact location of the burial sites, in many cases, has been lost over time. The commission recommends that all levels of government, including aboriginal councils, work with school survivors and landowners to find the graves and to erect markers to honour the deceased children.

“Many traditional belief systems say that, without that proper ceremony, the spirit of that person will never get back to where it is that they are supposed to go,” said Justice Sinclair. “So a lot of communities want to be able to conduct those spirit ceremonies for those who died. And they can’t because they don’t know where the body is, they don’t even know whether the person died – at the school or somewhere else.”

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Truth And Reconciliation Commission Final Report: By The Numbers

Inuit children stand outside a residential school in a photo released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission along with its final report. (Indian and Northern Affairs, Library and Archives Canada)

Inuit children stand outside a residential school in a photo released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission along with its final report. (Indian and Northern Affairs, Library and Archives Canada)

CBC News, Posted: Dec 14, 2015

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission releases its final report Tuesday on the history and legacy of Canada’s residential school system.

Here are some numbers and facts contained in the final report of the commission:

6,750 — Statements received by the Truth and Reconciliation from survivors of residential schools, members of their families and other individuals

150,000 — First Nation, Métis, and Inuit students who went to residential schools.

37,951 — Claims made for injuries resulting from physical and sexual abuse in residential schools.

30,939 — Claims resolved for sexual or serious physical abuse in residential schools by the end of 2014.

$2.69 — Compensation in billions for claims resolved by the end of 2014.

3,200 — Documented number of indigenous children who died in residential schools. Justice Murray Sinclair, the chair of the commission, estimates the number of deaths is much higher.

300 — Communities visited by the commission since 2008.

300 — Child-welfare agencies in Canada operating under provincial and territorial jurisdiction.

100 — The period, in years, studied by the inquiry into Canada’s residential school system.

80 — Residential schools in operation across the country in 1930.

7 — Number of languages in which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report will be published: English, French, Mi’kmaq, Ojibwa, Inuktitut, Cree and Dené.

Millions — Number of documents collected by the commission since 2008.