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What is the TRC?
The TRC is a component of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
Its mandate is to inform all Canadians about what happened in Indian Residential Schools (IRS). The Commission will document the truth of survivors, families, communities and anyone personally affected by the IRS experience.
This includes First Nations, Inuit and Métis former Indian Residential School students, their families, communities, the Churches, former school employees, Government and other Canadians.
The Commission has a five-year mandate and is supported by a TRC Secretariat, which is a federal government department.
What does the TRC hope to achieve?
The TRC hopes to guide and inspire Aboriginal peoples and Canadians in a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships that are based on mutual understanding and respect.
What will the TRC do?
The TRC will prepare a comprehensive historical record on the policies and operations of the schools and produce a report that will include recommendations to the Government of Canada concerning the IRS system and its legacy.
The Commission will host seven national events in different regions across Canada to promote awareness and public education about the IRS system and its impacts.
A national research centre will be established by the end of the TRC mandate that will be a permanent resource for all Canadians.
The TRC will support community events designed by individual communities to meet their unique needs.
The TRC will support a Commemoration Initiative that will provide funding for activities that honour and pay tribute in a permanent and lasting manner to former Indian Residential Schools students.
What has the TRC been doing?
The TRC Secretariat has been working to put in place the essential organizational structure to allow the Commission to implement its various mandate activities.
We are moving forward as quickly as possible to receive statements from anyone affected by the legacy of residential schools.
The TRC is working on frameworks for national and community events, increasing communications and outreach, continuing dialogue with parties and survivor organizations, and supporting the selection process for members of the Indian Residential Schools Survivor Committee.
Will the focus of the TRC be on Truth or Reconciliation?
The TRC's mandate activities focus on both truth and reconciliation.
Truth will be addressed through statement gathering, research and public education.
Reconciliation is an overall objective of the TRC. The Commission views reconciliation as an on-going individual and collective process that will require participation from all those affected by the IRS experience.
We will move towards achieving reconciliation through activities such as public education and engagement, commemoration and recommendations to the parties.
Why is the TRC important to Canadians?
Indian Residential Schools are a part of our shared history, a history that is not well understood by many.
Canada's relationship with Aboriginal people has suffered as a result of the IRS system. Healing and repairing that relationship will require education, awareness, and increased understanding of the legacy and the impacts still being felt for everyone involved in that relationship.
What can you tell me about the National and Community Events?
The Commission will fund and host seven national events in different regions across Canada, taking into consideration the history and demographics of the IRS system.
The national events will engage the Canadian public and provide education about the IRS system, the experience of former students and their families and the ongoing legacies of the institutions within communities. There will also be opportunities to celebrate regional diversity and honour those touched by residential schools.
The TRC will also support community events designed by communities to meet their unique needs.
Will there be hearings?
The TRC is not a criminal tribunal and the Commissioners do not have subpoena powers. The Commission will listen to Survivors and others affected by Residential School by way of Statement Gathering and others truth-sharing processes.
Once the truth-sharing process is in place, anyone affected by the residential schools legacy will have the opportunity to share his or her experience with the Commission.
How will the Commission receive stories?
The TRC appreciates the patience and understanding of Canadians, particularly survivors. We recognize that many survivors are elderly and that we need to move forward as quickly as possible to receive statements from anyone affected by the legacy of residential schools.
The Commission is currently looking at ways to ensure people can describe their experience in a safe, respectful and culturally appropriate manner. A person might share his or her experience through a one-on-one interview, in a written statement, or in a public forum.
For many people, the memories will be emotionally difficult. The Commission will ensure there are appropriate health supports available at all TRC events. Other health support services including professional counselling and cultural supports by an Elder, may be requested through Health Canada.
How will you ensure the voices of all survivors are heard?
We continue to engage with regional and national survivor organizations and we hear from survivors at outreach events. We recognize that experiences varied across the country and specific strategies will be required to address unique issues, such as culture, geography and language.
A ten-member Indian Residential Schools Survivor Committee, made up of residential school survivors from across Canada, serves an advisory body to the TRC.