Taking care: We recognize this news release may contain information that is difficult for many and that our efforts to honour Survivors and families may act as an unwelcome reminder for those who have suffered hardships through generations of government policies that were harmful to Indigenous Peoples.
A National Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to Survivors who can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.
Ottawa, Ontario (April 22, 2022) - The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, today issued the following statement:
"Recently, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada officials were made aware of a third-party secure storage locker in the Northwest Territories that contained claimant documents from the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) Independent Assessment Process. The storage locker belonged to a not-for-profit organization that provided health supports to claimants under the IRSSA. The organization was funded by the Government of Canada and is no longer in operation.
Given the confidential nature of these documents, the Government of Canada sought guidance from the IRSSA Supervising Courts. Based on direction from the Courts, the documents are now in a secure Government of Canada site and will be reviewed by the IRSSA Court Monitor. The Court Monitor will report findings to the Courts and recommend appropriate next steps to ensure that all documents containing confidential information are protected in keeping with existing direction from the Courts.
At this time, I would also like to provide an update on the internal document review announced in December 2021. In order to support this process, a formal directive was issued within the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs that requires all officials to preserve and retain all relevant documents regarding former residential schools. As part of this review, officials are also reviewing documents that were previously held in a secure storage in Vancouver. Upon initial review, these documents are believed to be hard copies of information contained in the Government's Residential Schools Historical Database, which were shared with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by 2015. Should any new documents related to the history or operation of residential schools be identified, the Government of Canada remains committed to sharing them with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) while respecting Survivors' wishes, legislation, court orders, settlement agreements and ongoing litigation processes, in accordance with the Memorandum of Agreement signed with the NCTR on January 20, 2022.
We understand that for many, sharing the stories of what happened at residential schools is a difficult and triggering process. Our Government is taking steps to ensure that other organizations who may no longer be in operation took appropriate measures to manage confidential documents related to the Independent Assessment Process. As we support Survivors and their families in their search for the truth, we are committed to ensuring that all relevant historical documents are retained and preserved, while protecting their privacy."