February 4, 2013 – Ottawa, Ontario – Inuit organizations across Canada are applauding the Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision that requires the Government of Canada to provide to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) all relevant federal documents related to the legacy, past and present, of residential schools in Canada, including documents at Library and Archives Canada. The Court announced the decision last week.
The application to clarify the obligation of Canada with respect to federal documents was filed by the TRC with the support of Inuit organizations and the Assembly of First Nations.
“We applaud the court for its decision,” said ITK President Terry Audla. “I am particularly pleased that the court has ruled that all relevant documents be provided to the TRC, which will I hope include documents relating to Inuit in all parts of Canada.”
The TRC was created under the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Part of its core mandate is to complete an historical record of the residential schools system and legacy. In order for the TRC to complete its mandate, the Court concluded that Canada was obliged under the Settlement Agreement to provide to the TRC the residential school documents housed at Library and Archives Canada and at all federal departments. The Court emphasized the unmistakable importance of the truth-telling mandate of the TRC in having recorded, preserved and made available to the public the legacy of the residential schools.
“The Court’s ruling means the entire government record of residential schools will become accessible. The truth must be known so that all Canadians fully grasp the magnitude of the abuse and damage residential schools inflicted upon Inuit and First Nations Canadians,” said Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. Acting President James Eetoolook.
“We are pleased with this decision, as many Inuit children were separated from their families at a young age and taken to residential schools. Inuit history is oral, not written. Therefore, without the relevant documents, many former students would not have access to the written historical records that are relevant to their past,” said Nellie Cournoyea, Chair and CEO of Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.
“The Court further gave full recognition to the context and circumstances in which the Agreement was created, acknowledging the core importance of the goals and intents pursued at the time by the Inuit and First Nations representatives. It is especially true with respect to this crucial exercise of truth-telling and history preservation that our communities are with courage undertaking, ” added Jobie Tukkiapik, Makivik Corporation President.For further information: Patricia D’Souza