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
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
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
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