A court has ruled that the individual testimonies of 40,000 Indian residential school survivors will be destroyed after 15 years, unless a survivor chooses to preserve their story in a national archive.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul M. Perell released the decision Thursday saying that during the 15-year retention period, survivors can choose to have some of their documents spared from destruction. These documents would be redacted to protect the privacy of others and then transferred to the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
- Read Justice Perell's decision
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"This will be a huge relief to the thousands of claimants who have appeared at our hearings fully expecting that their accounts of the abuse they suffered at Indian Residential Schools would not be made public without their consent," said chief adjudicator Dan Shapiro in a written statement.
Shapiro had argued that the promises of confidentiality made to survivors who provided testimony as part of the compensation process should be kept.
The testimony covered claims of sexual abuse, physical abuse and other wrongful acts suffered during former students' time at residential schools, according to the ruling.
Some survivors said that had they known their stories of their time at residential schools would ever be made public, they would not have revealed their past in the first place.
Meanwhile, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission argued its National Research Centre was the safest and most respectful place for the records.
During the 15-year retention period, a program will be in place to contact survivors and advise them of their choice to either have the documents destroyed or preserved.