Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission Commissioners Announce Decision to Resign



    OTTAWA, Jan. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Commissioners Claudette Dumont-Smith and
Jane Morley announced today their intention to resign as Commissioners of the
Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC),
effective June 1, 2009.
    "It was a great honour to have been chosen as Commissioners. We will
remember and cherish this exceptional experience for the rest of our lives. We
personally regret that we will not be continuing as Commissioners for the full
five-year mandate. However, we have become convinced that the time has come
for us to step aside and let others take on this demanding but rewarding
mission," said the Commissioners in a joint statement (attached).
    "What is important now is for everyone involved to focus on the task of
getting the Truth and Reconciliation process back on track without further
delay," they added.

    The TRC was created as a result of the court-approved Indian Residential
Schools Settlement Agreement negotiated by legal counsel for former students,
legal counsel for the churches, the Government of Canada, Assembly of First
Nations and other Aboriginal organizations.
    The Commission's mandate is to document the truth of survivors, their
families, communities and anyone who has been personally affected by the
Indian Residential Schools legacy.

    
          Joint Statement of Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners
                   Claudette Dumont-Smith and Jane Morley

    We announce today with sadness our intention to resign as Commissioners
    of the Indian Residential School Truth and Reconciliation Commission,
    effective June 1, 2009.

    It was a great honour to have been chosen as Commissioners. We took on
    the challenge because we believed that our respective skills and
    experiences would contribute to the success of a process of enormous
    importance to survivors of the Indian Residential Schools, to Aboriginal
    peoples generally and to Canada as a whole.

    We have, however, concluded that the best way forward for a successful
    Truth and Reconciliation Commission process is with a new slate of
    Commissioners.

    As Commissioners, we've had to face many challenges over the past six
    months. Nonetheless, we will remember and cherish this exceptional
    experience for the rest of our lives. We personally regret that we will
    not be continuing as Commissioners for the full five-year mandate.
    However we have become convinced that the time has come for us to step
    aside and let others take on this demanding but rewarding mission.

    Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission is not the first such
    process to have a troubled start. Challenges such as we have faced are
    not uncommon and have been experienced by many other, if not all, Truth
    and Reconciliation processes around the world. Rather than seeing what
    has happened in the initial stage of our Commission as a reason to doubt
    its long-term success, we believe it should be seen as an opportunity to
    learn from the difficulties encountered in order to build a stronger
    process for the future.

    Although we disagree with the stated perceptions of Mr. Justice Harry
    LaForme when he resigned as Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation
    Commission, we believe that revisiting the statements he made at the time
    of his resignation would not be of any benefit to the Truth and
    Reconciliation process, to which we remain profoundly committed. We are
    content in the knowledge that at all times we have carried out our duties
    as Commissioners with diligence and integrity. In addition, we want it to
    be known that, regardless of any differences that might have existed
    between Mr. Justice LaForme and ourselves, there was never in our view
    any difference in the importance we all attached to reconciliation
    between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

    What is important now is for everyone involved to focus on the task of
    getting the Truth and Reconciliation process back on track without
    further delay.

    Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission is unique because it is the
    first to take place in a developed country and the first to focus on the
    abuses of children by the state and other entities over a 100-year
    period. It is imperative that this process succeed - for the survivors,
    for their families and communities, and for all Canadians.

    Fortunately, the process has strength beyond individual Commissioners. We
    know this because we have experienced the power generated by survivors
    and others in telling their stories of their Indian Residential school
    experiences. We have seen the capacity of this truth-telling to engage
    non-Aboriginal Canadians. We believe that this engagement will, over
    time, transform relationships that have been fundamentally damaged by the
    consequences of a government policy put in place to "kill the Indian in
    the child".

    As we begin the transfer of our responsibilities to new Commissioners, we
    offer whatever assistance we can give them, both during the transition
    period and over the next five years of the Commission's mandate. We also
    wish them great success as they move forward on this extraordinary
    endeavour to hear the truths of those who experienced the Indian
    Residential Schools and, through the hearing and recording of those
    truths, to bring about reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-
    Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

    Migwech - Thank you - Merci!

    Commissioner Jane Morley
    Commissioner Claudette Dumont-Smith
    




For further information:

For further information: Kimberly Phillips, Spokesperson, Indian
Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, (613) 219-5872

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TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION

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