The Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Canada's Indian residential schools issues its summary report this morning, and TRC chair Justice Murray Sinclair has hinted the report will cite a form of genocide to describe what happened to the 150,000 or so aboriginal children and their families while the schools operated.
In media interviews, Sinclair has also revealed that the TRC has documented the deaths of over 6,000 students while in residential schools, adding that there are probably more.
That would put the odds of dying in Canadian residential schools over the years they operated at about the same as for those serving in Canada's armed forces during the Second World War.
The commission is a requirement of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement reached in 2007, the largest class action settlement in Canadian history.
In an earlier report, the TRC said "the residential schools were intended to bring about the end of Aboriginal people as a distinct group within Canadian society," adding that the effort failed, because "Aboriginal parents and children continuously resisted residential schooling."
Years the residential schools program operated 1883 - 1996
- By 1979, only 12 residential schools were still operating. The program largely wound down during the 1980s.
Total number of schools over time: 139
- Listed on the official court website for the settlement of the Residential Schools Class Action Litigation
- According to the TRC interim report, "At least nine other schools were not included in the settlement agreement because they closed in the early twentieth century."
Peak number of schools operating at the same time: 80, in 1931
Share of the schools operated by the Roman Catholic Church: up to 60 per cent
Total First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children placed in residential schools: more than 150,000
Estimated number of residential schools student deaths: over 6,000, according to TRC chair Justice Murray Sinclair
Odds of a student dying over the life of the program: 1 in 25 (if 6,000)
- Odds of dying for Canadians serving in the Second World War: 1 in 26
- According to Saturday Night magazine, reporting on residential schools, Nov. 23, 1907: "Indian boys and girls are dying like flies.... Even war seldom shows as large a percentage of fatalities as does the education system we have imposed on our Indian wards."
Odds of a residential school student dying in the early years of the program: 1 in 2
- Duncan Campbell Scott, then deputy superintendent-general of Indian Affairs, wrote in 1913: "It is quite within the mark to say that fifty per cent of the children who passed through these schools did not live to benefit from the education, which they had received therein."
Former students living today: 80,000
Compensation for sexual or serious sexual assaults
Claims resolved by the independent assessment process: 31,970
Claims in progress: 5,995
Total compensation paid: $2.8 billion
- IAP compensation numbers, as of April 30, 2015
- Like the TRC itself, the IAP comes from the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, to resolve claims out of court.
- Any former students could also receive what's called a common experience payment of $10,000 for the first year of residence and $3,000 for each additional year of residence.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Statements received by the TRC from witnesses: over 6,750
Hours of recordings collected by the TRC: 1,355
National events held by the TRC: 7
Volumes of the TRC final report: 6 (projected)