A Yukon-based agency that offers counselling for former residential school students must decide this week if it can keep its doors open.


CAIRS executive director Joanne Henry said the group may have to shut down its drop-in centre in downtown Whitehorse if it cannot secure enough funding this week. ((CBC))

The Committee on Abuse In Residential Schools (CAIRS) has been struggling to secure enough money to keep going, since the federal government discontinued funding for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation last year.

CAIRS is waiting to hear back this week on funding requests it has submitted to Health Canada and the Yukon government's corrections program, executive director Joanne Henry told CBC News.

If those funding agencies say no, Henry said CAIRS must close its drop-in centre in Whitehorse at the end of this month.

"I don't really know, myself. I can't really give a good answer to that one right now," Henry said Friday, as she sat in a mostly empty room at the downtown Whitehorse facility.

CAIRS raised $9,000 in pledges during a fundraiser last month, but less than half of the money has materialized. Henry said the funds that were raised went to pay back rent.

Even if CAIRS must close its doors, Henry said there will still be a need for counselling services.

Former residential school students are forced to relive traumatic events from their past in order to qualify for federal compensation, she said.

"You talk about your experiences in the school, you talk about your experiences if you were abused … then on top of that, you get a dollar amount," Henry said.

"They grade, you know, what your abuses were. You're on a point system, and then your point system tells you how much money you're going to get."

Henry said she will continue to talk to former residential school students even if CAIRS no longer has a home.