– Piita Irniq, former student of three Residential Schools, Nunatsiaq News, July 29,2014
Why Is It Important To Preserve IAP Records?
The IAP records collectively represent nearly 40,000 stories of the more than 150,000 Indigenous children who attended Canada’s Residential Schools. Survivors have not been properly informed of their right to have these records preserved. Many Survivors are also not aware of how their records will be protected by the NCTR (as explained further below).
The IAP records are an essential history, even if they are not publicly accessible.
The IAP records are the best source of evidence of the abuses that took place in the Residential Schools. Preserving those records will make it impossible for future generations to deny or minimize what happened to students in Canada’s Residential Schools.
Taken together, the records will tell us much more about the Residential Schools and their devastating, ongoing legacy than we currently know. They tell the Survivors’ side of the story – what the schools were really like, what happened to the Indigenous children who were removed from their families and taken there. They may give us clues about the children who never returned home from the schools. They may help us understand why other human rights violations continue to occur and recognize the importance of breaking the silence.
The records will also provide future generations with the ability to understand how the IAP worked and how Survivors were treated in the process. Many Survivors have told the NCTR that the IAP process was very hard on them. If the records are destroyed, there will be no evidence of what Survivors experienced during the IAP hearings.
Some institutions are already questioning the truth of the testimony that was provided. The NCTR believes that Survivors told the truth about the Residential Schools and that this truth can and should be preserved.
Backgrounder On The Litigation: Court Rules That Survivors Can Choose To Preserve IAP Records In The NRCTC
On August 6, 2014, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that all records from the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) must be destroyed within 15 years – unless Survivors specifically ask to have their IAP applications, the transcript or audio recording of their IAP evidence, and the decision of the IAP adjudicator, transferred to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR). The Court further ruled that Survivors have a right to know that they can preserve their records in the NCTR.
The Independent Assessment Process is one element of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The IAP compensates former Residential School students for sexual, physical and other serious abuse. About 20,000 of 38,000 IAP hearings have been completed. It will still be a number of years before the remainder are completed.
The court case over the future of the IAP records is a result of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission asking the court what would happen to the records. A number of parties and organizations, including the IAP Secretariat and a number of Catholic entities argued that the records should be destroyed.
The Superior Court’s ruling is being appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal and the ultimate fate of the records is still unclear. In the Appeal documents, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) argues that the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement says that IAP records must be preserved in Library and Archives Canada unless Survivors expressly request that they be destroyed. The NCTR supports this approach to respecting Survivor choice, provided the privacy of the records is well protected.
Various Catholic entities argue that the records must be destroyed even if Survivors expressly choose to preserve their IAP records so that future generations cannot deny what happened to them at the Residential Schools. The Catholic entities argue that Survivors can only preserve their stories in the NCTR with the permission or consent of the Catholic entities, which will almost certainly be refused.
In the meantime, the NCTR continues to hear from Survivors who believe their records should NOT be destroyed. These Survivors want future generations to be aware of the human rights abuses that took place in the Residential Schools. They want to ensure that their experiences can never be minimized or denied.
Privacy Protection For The Records
IAP Records Will Be Subject To Very Strict Privacy Protections. The NCTR Is Not Seeking To Make IAP Records Widely Publicly Available. This Means The NCTR Is Not Looking To Put These Records Up On A Website. The NCTR Will Respect Survivors Wishes And Will Only Make The Records Open And Public If The Survivor Tells Us To Do So. Privacy Protection For The Records
All records will be highly restricted and protected. They will be stored in a secure facility that can only be accessed by limited numbers of trained personnel and according to strict policies and practices.
Which Records Are We Talking About?
The IAP records contain many different sets of records. These include Survivors’ original applications forms, audio recordings and transcripts of hearings, and the adjudicator’s decision. They also include documents such as medical and tax records.
The litigation is about preserving ONLY IAP applications, hearing transcripts/audio recordings, and adjudicative decisions. NO other IAP documents (such as medical or tax records) would be archived unless a Survivor specifically tells us he or she wants those records stored at the NCTR.
Governance Of The Records
At the NCTR, the IAP Records will be under Indigenous control. The Survivors Circle [LINK to Meet the Survivors Circle] and Governing Circle [LINK to Meet the Governing Circle] will play a central role in ensuring the records are treated with the utmost respect.
Who Will Have Access To The IAP Records?
VERY limited access will be granted to qualified researchers.
Researchers will be carefully screened through multiple layers of review at the University of Manitoba and the NCTR itself. The Centre will ensure that research access to the record complies with Indigenous research best practices and principles (e.g. the research must benefit Indigenous peoples and must do no harm to individuals, families, communities or peoples) and that strict confidentiality is maintained.
IN NO CASE will researchers be allowed to publish names or other information that could identify a person.
What If I Don’t Want My Record In An Archive?
The NCTR believes that Survivors have the right to decide whether their own records are archived at the Centre or not. At the request of a Survivor and without time limit, the NCTR will remove and destroy any and all IAP records associated with that Survivor.
Preserve And Protect Your IAP Records
If you would like to discuss the preservation and protection of your IAP records, please contact the NCTR at 204-474-6618 or NCTR@umanitoba.ca.