Toronto Star July 17, 2014. Residential school survivors raise outcry over possible erasure of records
Canada is a country of heinous crimes of grief and mourning, a land of human misery without any hope. An ocean of human tragedy, that their fierce waves drag millions of shattered lives.
Nazi Holocaust – Armenian Genocide – Ukrainian Holodomor – Ruanda Genocide… Revealing to the World the Horrors of the “Canadian Calamities” It is well known by the world public; that in Canada were perpetrated the most heinous crimes that the books of history can be registered. The human rights organizations as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch spared no effort to keep the appalling historical record of crimes in secret. Also the Canadian Regimes of turn have shown complicity in the atrocious violations of human rights, and their help to maintain in the impunity and silence, crimes that belong to the International Criminal Court. Now the regime he wants to destroy the horrors, the calamities, committed in the "Residential Schools against defenseless children." The methods of torture and death used by the Nazis in concentrations camps, the pain, suffering and agony that everyday are feeling in their lives the surviving victims. Also with the so called "Pardons Canada" are destroying millions of files that would prove the crimes committed by the Police, Judicial System, Minister of Public Safety and others!
Residential school survivors raise outcry over possible erasure of records
A hearing over the fate of testimony from about 38,000 survivors concluded Wednesday, with a judge reserving his decision on whether the documents will be destroyed or sealed and later transferred to federal archives.
Colin McConnell / Toronto Star file photo
Julian Falconer, lawyer for the commission tasked with producing a report on the history of residential schools, has proposed that testimony from survivors be sealed for 30 years and then be released to federal archives.
By: Tim Alamenciak News reporter, Published on Wed Jul 16 2014
The threat that testimony from 38,000 former residential school students might be destroyed has prompted an outcry that “flooded” the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation with questions from survivors concerned about the erasing of their records.
Chief adjudicator Dan Shapiro called for destroying the documents in June, saying it is the only way to protect the privacy promised to claimants.
“When the media reports of Mr. Shapiro went viral, (the research centre’s executive director) was flooded with calls from survivors and others that said, ‘We don’t want our records destroyed,’” said Joanna Birenbaum, lawyer for the National Research Centre. “They said, ‘We want history to know how we were treated in the (claims) process.’”
A hearing over the fate of records from about 38,000 residential school survivors concluded Wednesday, with Superior Court Justice Paul Perell reserving his decision.
Throughout the three-day hearing, two options were discussed for the documents: destroying them after a waiting period, or sealing them for an extended time before transferring them to Library and Archives Canada.
While Shapiro asked for destruction of the testimony, Julian Falconer, lawyer for the commission tasked with producing a report on the history of residential schools, proposed an alternative that would seal the documents for 30 years and then have them released to the federal archives — a proposal that lawyers for the government agreed with.
As part of the alternative scenario, Falconer proposed implementing a notice program that would allow the survivors to choose to put their records in the National Research Centre at the University of Manitoba.
Peter Grant, independent counsel acting for the claimants, told the court Wednesday that a sealing period on the documents and their eventual transfer could harm future generations living in the same communities. Grant said survivors are promised confidentiality at the beginning of each individual hearing.
“The inevitable outcome of this promise is destruction. That’s the only way to uphold the promise,” he said. “I can tell you, a number of my clients, if they were told the material would go to the archives, they wouldn’t have done it.”
There are still about 10,000 hearings to be conducted across the country.
Phil Fontaine, former head of the Assembly of First Nations and himself a residential school survivor, submitted an affidavit to the court advocating for destruction of the documents.
Grant said many who give testimony never want to revisit it and opposed a notice program that would allow survivors to opt in to put their records in the University of Manitoba archives, but he said the research centre should remain open for those who want to have their story entered into the record.
“This is all bringing it back up. They have closure, so there’s closure to the claimants. Over and over again, they’re told, just get through this and you’re done,” said Grant. “Some of my clients, they don’t even want the decision because they don’t want any record in their home of what happened.”
Claimants can volunteer to disclose their confidential statements to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but according to Falconer, only two individuals have done so.
Julian Roy, who is also representing the commission, said the small number of people who have transferred their records demonstrates that the option has not been well advertised.
“What that really shows us is how important it is — no matter who you agree with, regardless of which way you go — that there be a serious effort with an enhanced notice program to give a real opportunity for survivors to make choices about where they want their records to be. They need to be empowered in that way,” said Roy.