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Pulpit & Politics

By Dennis Gruending

 

Truth and Reconciliation: index on residential schools

05/27/2015
Dennis Gruending

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) will hold its closing events in Ottawa May 31 to June 3, 2015. The TRC was established in 2008 as a part of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement and its task is to provide Canadians with the truth about the history and legacy of Indian residential schools run by the government and by Canadian churches on the government’s behalf for more than 130 years. A second portion of the mandate is to inspire a process leading toward reconciliation within Aboriginal families, and between Aboriginal peoples and non-Aboriginal communities, churches, governments, and Canadians in general. 

Here are some facts regarding the residential schools, told in the form of an index: 

Year in which politician Nicholas Flood Davin visited the U.S. to observe residential schools and recommended them for Canada: 1879

Canadian government minister who said in 1883 that, “In order to educate the (Indian) children properly we must separate them from their families”: Hector Langevin

Year in which the Canadian government began to provide funding to church-run residential schools: 1883

Number of residential schools which existed: 132

Provinces in which residential schools did not exist: Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island

Estimated percentage of church-run schools operated by Roman Catholics: 60 per cent; Anglicans: 25 per cent; United Church: 15 per cent

Approximate number of children removed from their families and communities to attend residential schools: 150,000

Number of children identified by TRC who died of disease or accident while attending a residential school: 4,100+

Year in which the Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs predicted that within a century Aboriginal people would cease to exist as an identifiable cultural group: 1920

Year in which the Indian Act was revised and attendance at residential schools was made compulsory for all children up to age 15: 1920

Year in which status Indians were first allowed to vote in federal elections: 1960

Year in which the last residential school was closed: 1996

Estimated number of residential school survivors in 2012: 80,000

Year in which Canada approved a settlement providing for a Common Experience Payment (CEP), available to former residential school students: 2006

Amount of CEP compensation provided to eligible former residential school students: $10,000 for first year of attendance plus $3,000 for each additional year.

Total CEP applications received (since 2007): 105,457

Total CEP applications paid as of Sept. 30, 2014: 79,272

Applications deemed ineligible: 23,892

Total of CEP Payments: $1,621,295,106

Average CEP Payment $20,452

Year in which Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued an apology to former residential school students: 2008

Location of National Research Centre to house the statements, documents and all other materials the TRC has gathered: University of Manitoba

Number of respondents to Angus Reid poll in 2000 who said they were aware of the residential schools issue: eight out of 10

Number of respondents to Environics poll in 2008 who said they had heard or read something on the subject of residential schools: five out of 10.

Gruending is an Ottawa-based writer and a former member of Parliament. His blog can be found at http://www.dennisgruending.ca This post appeared May 21 on the United Church Observer blog, www.ucobserver.org