Evidence of meeting #30 for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was cmhc.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Sharon Matthews  Vice-President, Assisted Housing Sector, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
  • Christine Cram  Acting Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Socio-Economic Policy and Regional Operations, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
  • Gina Wilson  Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

5 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

Yes, it's a challenge. I'll tell you right now people are very challenged by the numbers, but we're going to do our best to meet the requirements, because we're obligated by the courts to do so.

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Barry Devolin

Thank you, Ms. Wilson.

The last questioner in the first and only round will be Mr. Warkentin.

You have six minutes.

May 28th, 2008 / 5 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for coming in, Ms. Wilson. Thank you for being here this afternoon.

I have a couple of questions. The first question is in regard to the confidentiality of the cases that are coming for consideration. I just want to make sure that, number one, there's the assurance of privacy, especially as information is collected. Of course, many of these files.... There are questions that need to be answered.

How can we, along with the people who are applying, be assured that their stories aren't being shared, possibly even going back to the communities these people came from? Is there a process to protect the confidentiality and privacy of the applicants?

5 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

Certainly, yes, we go to great lengths to ensure privacy requirements. For instance, for alternative dispute resolution cases or independent assessment process cases, which are very detailed accounts of abuse, we ensure that we work with files in the department that are security-locked, when one file goes to another file, for instance.

We also work, in the independent assessment process, with Crawford Class Action Services. They go to extreme lengths when it comes to privacy of records and so on. When it comes to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, all privacy requirements will be considered as people come forward.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

In terms of that, specifically with issues of sexual abuse, can you shed some light on how these issues are dealt with? Obviously, this is a criminal act. This isn't just an act against an individual, which is in the past. In some circumstances, both the perpetrator and the victim continue to survive. How is it being dealt with in terms of passing that information on to authorities? Or is there any process to pass it on in terms of the criminality and addressing the criminal charges that may or may not need to be laid?

5 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

That's a good question.

It's certainly up to the former students on how they want to handle their case.

In some cases, the perpetrator may no longer be alive. In other cases, we have some policies around how we contact perpetrators to be part of the hearing, for instance, or to offer testimony to the hearing of abuse claims, and so on. There are some very detailed provisions around how we do that, and we try to do that as sensitively as we can for not only the former student but also the perpetrator.

Does that answer your question?

5 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

I guess so. It's left up to the student to pursue. I guess there's not a relationship between you and the police authorities.

5 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

When former students come to us with an application to deal with an abuse through a hearing, they've pretty well made up their minds that's how they want to resolve their case. If they choose to resolve it in another way, they wouldn't be coming to us for a settlement.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

But I'm thinking they're coming to you with the expectation they'll be getting a cash payment. I'm concerned about some circumstances. And I recognize that a lot of these perpetrators would be very old now. But there is the possibility that at one point you will hear of a case where there was a perpetrator and the perpetrator continues to be alive, and that perpetrator may or may not still be a perpetrator. So I'm just wondering if there's any provision or assurance, if in fact there is a person who might be of interest to the authorities, that there's some connection. Is there a process by which you inform the authorities?

5:05 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

Certainly not. As I said, when it comes to abuse claims that go through the independent assessment process or the alternative dispute resolution process, they're coming to us to deal with it specifically through a settlement, through a reconciliation, through a resolution-type healing process, if you will. They're not there, and we're not there, to bring the perpetrator before the courts.

Under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we have to think of these things, though, as people come forward as witnesses and identify perpetrators. There is a role there for authorities. We're talking to organizations like the RCMP about how to deal with those cases.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

I represent a constituency that has a large native population. Within the boundaries of my constituency we have a school that was run as a residential school. I've been contacted by many people and have learned of some interesting stories surrounding the school.

I've been contacted by a group of non-native students who, because of certain circumstances, ended up in the school as well. They had a lot more questions than the first nations students, because there has been a concentrated effort to get the information out to first nations students but maybe not so much to non-first nations students. We've been able to rectify that.

But their concern was that through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission there be a process that would encourage people who are of non-aboriginal descent to be notified, and that there be a concentrated effort to bring them forward as well.

Have you had any consideration of that or talked about it?

5:05 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

It's a really good point. It's something not well-known, that non-aboriginal people did attend Indian residential schools, for a whole number of reasons, whether because sometimes they were children of staff or that they were just at a certain location where it was best that they attend that particular school. Of course, it depends on whether they were day students or residents, and so on, whether they're eligible for certain aspects of the settlement agreement.

I don't think there have been any considerations that I'm aware of for a special stream or anything like that. It's something that's part of the legacy and the understanding about Indian residential schools, and it's something people should be aware of, that the class action includes not just aboriginal people or just first nations people, but it includes anyone who lived in an Indian residential school at that period. It's important information for Canadians to be aware of, that there were non-aboriginal people who were there.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Barry Devolin

Thank you, Mr. Warkentin.

Thank you, Ms. Wilson and Ms. Nabigon.

Ms. Nabigon, we didn't get to hold your feet to the fire today, but maybe we'll have another opportunity in the future.

We have appreciated your presentations and your information.

I am going to suspend now for two minutes so that we can clear the room and go in camera.

[Proceedings continue in camera]