New website helps residential school survivors preserve or destroy records

Residential school survivors who made claims against the government have a new tool to help them decide what becomes of their records.

Records will be destroyed if no action is taken by Sept. 19, 2027

There's a new resource available to residential school survivors who made claims under the Independent Assessment Process or the earlier Alternative Dispute Resolution process. (Edmund Metatawabin collection/Algoma University)

Residential school survivors who made claims against the government have a new tool to help them decide what becomes of their records.

The Indian Residential School Adjudication Secretariat has started a new program to alert survivors of their options regarding the records generated through the Independent Assessment Process or the earlier Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The secretariat has also launched a new website where people can learn more about their options.

"We have developed a robust notice program that includes training of health support workers across the country, paid advertising, social media, earned media, and other tools," Dan Shapiro, chief adjudicator of the independent assessment process, said.

The Independent Assessment Process was established though the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which to date is the largest class action settlement in Canadian history, according to a press release issued by the adjudicator.

More than 38,000 claims were made through the Independent Assessment Process. According to the release, 99 per cent of them have been resolved and the final claims are expected to be resolved by 2020.

On Sept. 19, 2027, any record of claim generated through the Independent Assessment Process or the Alternative Dispute Resolution process will be destroyed unless the person the record concerns decides otherwise.

Destroy, share, preserve or keep a record personally

Survivors can choose to preserve their records, share their records, or ask for a copy for themselves.

Claimants who chose to preserve their records may choose to share them with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, where millions of records about residential schools are already stored.

Claimants who are unsure whether or not they want to share their records can receive a copy to review before making their final decision.

Those who choose to share their records will be asked to sign a consent form.

Records for any survivors who have since died before signing the consent form will be destroyed.

Records are private and confidential: courts

According to a press release issued by the adjudicator, Canada's top courts ruled the Independent Assessment Process and the Alternative Dispute Resolution are private and confidential.

"Claimants, and no one else, control their [Independent Assessment Process] and [Alternative Dispute Resolution] records, and they alone have the right to decide what to do with them," Shapiro said.