The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) says it is still waiting for records from the federal government related to residential schools, despite a comment from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that all federal records have been provided.
“All the federal records in possession of the federal government have already been turned over to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg,” Trudeau told people gathered on Tk’emlups tte Sepwepemc territory to apologize for not attending a ceremony he was invited to on Sept. 30, opting instead to vacation with his family on Vancouver Island.
When asked about the records the prime minister says have been released, the NCTR says “that’s not accurate.”
“At present, we are still waiting for Canada to provide the final versions of school narratives and supporting documents used in the Independent Assessment Process (IAP),” said a statement posted on the NCTR website. “The NCTR has various school narratives on its website, but some are out of date. For other schools, no narrative has ever been provided to the NCTR.
“The NCTR is also in negotiation with Canada concerning statistical records to be generated from the database which was used for claims resolution in the IAP. Negotiations have been ongoing for records since the creation of the NCTR from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015. This means Survivors and their families have been waiting for years and counting.”
Stewart Phillip, the grand chief of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) says he’s astounded that the prime minister would give an inaccurate statement to leaders and survivors.
“A man that declared that Indigenous people were the most important relationship to the Canadian government and yet there have been a litany of broken promises, empty commitment and meaningless apologies.
“If he has a shred of honour left he should resign forthwith.”
APTN News reached out to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to ask about the comments. According to a spokesperson in the PMO, the government will go back and look for more records.
“We have provided over 4 million documents to the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation. To the best of our knowledge, all documents were provided,” said a spokesperson with the PMO. “If that’s not the case, we will do everything we can in working with all parties of the IRSSA to make sure the documents are provided.”
The NCTR says it’s also missing records from Library and Archives Canada and provincial governments, “most of whom have not yet produced vital statistics, including death certificates for children lost at schools or coroners’ reports.”
The centre says it’s been negotiating with the government about access to records since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created in 2015, including records to be generated from the database used in the claims resolution process.
The records that have yet to be provided by the federal government are crucial for research into missing children, the national centre says, adding that they are also needed to fully document the residential school system and its ongoing effects.
“If the prime minister is telling all Canadians and Indigenous Peoples that the (National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation) holds all records, it is time for that to be true,” its statement says.
With files from the Canadian Press