Appointment of New Chairperson and Commissioners of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission

    OTTAWA, June 10 /CNW Telbec/ - The Indian Residential Schools Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC) welcomes the appointment today of The
Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair as Chairperson and Marie Wilson and Chief
Wilton Littlechild as Commissioners.
    Chairperson Justice Murray Sinclair is a member of the Three Fires
Society, and a Third Degree Member of the Midewiwin (Grand Medicine) Society
of the Ojibway. Manitoba's first Aboriginal judge, Justice Sinclair brings to
the TRC his many years of commitment advocating for Aboriginal rights and
expert knowledge of Aboriginal culture and the administration of justice.
    The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair was appointed Associate Chief
Judge of the Provincial Court of Manitoba in March of 1988 and to the Court of
Queen's Bench of Manitoba in January 2001. Shortly after his appointment as
Associate Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of Manitoba in 1988, Justice
Sinclair was appointed Co-Commissioner, along with Court of Queen's Bench
Associate Chief Justice A. C. Hamilton, of Manitoba's Aboriginal Justice
    Commissioner Marie Wilson has dedicated her career to living and working
in a cross cultural environments within Canada and internationally, as an
educator, award-winning journalist, broadcast trainer, program director, and
regional executive in both the public broadcast and public service sectors.
She has a wide breadth of experience working with Aboriginal, church and
political organizations at the operational, executive and political levels,
and is fluently bilingual in English and French. She also has deep personal
knowledge of the residential school legacy through her immediate family and
community ties.
    Commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild is from Maskawacis Cree Territory
of Treaty No. 6. He was the first Treaty First Nations person to receive his
law degree from the University of Alberta in 1976. He is a strong advocate for
the rights of Indigenous Peoples and a former residential school student.
Chief Littlechild organized a coalition of Indigenous Nations that sought and
gained consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United
Nations. He was re-appointed by the E.C.O.S.O.C. President to represent North
America and has completed his second and final term as the North American
representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
    With the appointment of the Commission, the TRC looks forward to
launching its mandate activities as soon as possible.

    The TRC's 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. The aim of the TRC is to guide and inspire Aboriginal peoples and
Canadians in a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships that are
based on mutual understanding and respect.
    Over its five year mandate the Commission will create an accurate and
public historical record regarding the policies and operations of the former
IRS, as well as what happened to the children who attended them, and also what
former employees recall from their experiences.
    The TRC was established on June 1, 2008.

    Backgrounder attached.



    The Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
was established on June 1, 2008, with a mandate of 5 years.
    As a component of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the
TRC is an independent body that will oversee a process to provide former
students and anyone who has been affected by the Indian Residential Schools
legacy, with an opportunity to share their individual experiences in a safe
and culturally appropriate manner.
    Canada's TRC is unique from other commissions around the world in that its
scope is primarily focussed on the experiences of children. Its focus of
research spans more than 100 years, one of the longest durations ever
examined. It is also the first court-ordered truth commission to be
established. As such, the court plays an ongoing role in the implementation
and supervision of the commission.

    Over the course of its five year mandate, the Commission will:

    - Create an accurate and public historical record of the past regarding
      the policies and operations of the former residential schools, what
      happened to the children who attended them, and what former employees
      recall from their experiences.
    - Complete a public report that will include recommendations to all
      parties of the Settlement Agreement concerning the Indian Residential
      Schools (IRS) system.
    - Host seven national gatherings in regions across Canada to promote
      awareness and public education about the IRS legacy and its impacts.
    - Support a Commemoration Initiative that will fund initiatives that pay
      tribute to survivors.
    - Support community events designed by communities to meet their unique
    - Establish a national research centre that will be a permanent resource
      for all Canadians.
    - Guide and inspire Aboriginal peoples and Canadians in a process of
      truth and healing on a path leading toward reconciliation and renewed
      relationships based on mutual understanding and respect.

    Historical Overview

    Indian Residential Schools date back to the1870's. The policy behind the
government funded, church-run schools attempted to "kill the Indian in the
child". Over 130 residential schools were located across the country, with the
last one closing in 1996.
    More than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were taken from
their families and placed in these schools. Many were forbidden to speak their
language and practice their own culture. Today, there are an estimated 80,000
former students still living.
    While some former students had positive experiences at residential
schools, many suffered emotional, physical and sexual abuse, and others died
while attending these schools. The unresolved trauma suffered by former
students has been passed on from generation to generation.
    The 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) report recognized
that the future must include a place for those affected by Indian Residential
Schools, so as to enable them to stand with dignity, to remember, to voice
their sorrow and anger and to be listened to with respect.
    Following the RCAP report, Gathering Strength, Canada's Aboriginal Action
Plan was unveiled. This included a Statement of Reconciliation acknowledging
the Government of Canada's role in the development and administration of
Indian residential schools.
    In 2001, the federal Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution
Canada was created to manage and resolve the large number of abuse claims
filed by former students against the federal government. In 2004, an Assembly
of First Nations Report on Canada's Dispute Resolution Plan to Compensate for
Abuses in Indian Residential Schools lead to discussions to develop a
holistic, fair and lasting resolution of the legacy of Indian Residential
Schools. This resulted in the negotiated Settlement Agreement that was
approved by all parties and implemented on September 19, 2007.
    The IRSSA was approved by the Courts and came into effect on September 19,
2007. It includes the following individual and collective measures to address
the legacy of the Indian Residential School system:

    - Common Experience Payment to be paid to all eligible former students
      who resided at a recognized Indian Residential School;
    - Independent Assessment Process for claims of sexual and serious
      physical abuse;
    - Truth and Reconciliation Commission;
    - Commemoration Activities;
    - Measures to support healing such as the Indian Residential Schools
      Resolution Health Support Program and an endowment to the Aboriginal
      Healing Foundation.

    On June 11, 2008, the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government of
Canada, issued an apology in the House of Commons to former students, their
families and communities. The apology is considered by many as a step towards
    The work of the TRC will further contribute to a forward looking process
of truth, healing and reconciliation.

For further information:

For further information: Kimberly Phillips, Spokesperson, Indian
Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, (613) 219-5872; Nancy
Pine, (613) 316-5654

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