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Decisions coming on TRC mandate compliance
In its interim report released Feb. 24, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended that the federal government ensure the commission had “adequate funds to complete its mandate on time.”
But there has been no formal request made for additional funding.
While the TRC has been given another year to accomplish its tasks, additional funding has not been received and getting additional dollars will not be an easy task.
“Issues of extension of time and additional resources are really not in front of us because the question of where the resources come from raises itself. It was an agreement that the parties reached so all the parties would have to agree on any additional resources,” said TRC Chair Justice Murray Sinclair.
The Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, signed in 2006 by the federal government and the Catholic, Presbyterian, United and Anglican churches with the Assembly of First Nations and Inuit representatives, established a $60-million-budget through the survivors fund to be used over a five-year period. The first members of the TRC were appointed in 2008 but resigned shortly thereafter.
The present commission members were appointed in 2009 and the TRC’s mandate was extended to 2014 at the commissioners’ request.
If additional funding is not forthcoming, Sinclair said the parties to the agreement will have to reconsider the commission’s mandate. The commission has been tasked with gathering statements from residential schools survivors; establishing a research centre to house archives; to host national events; and to prepare interim and final reports with recommendations.
“What we’ve said to the parties and what we will be saying sooner rather than later, I think, is that we are at a point where we have to make some crucial decisions as to how we’re going to spend the remaining money that we have and it will have implications for mandate compliance,” said Sinclair.
Adding to the complications of the timeline are delays that the TRC are faced with, including collecting documentation from the government and the churches, a court-mandated process.
“We are concerned about any delays that are attributable to the delay that one experiences when you can’t agree on how to go forward with the parties,” said Sinclair. The judges monitoring the agreement have been asked by the TRC to step in.
Sinclair noted that the commission would not “shy away” from the work it needed to do.
He said that at the midway point of the TRC’s mandate, over 500 communities have been visited by the TRC, with survivors’ statements having been gathered in these communities and others.
“We do want to put out that we still have a lot of work left to do and we are going to get to it and do it in the best way we can in the time we’ve got and we will continue to reveal all that we are shown and told by those who are most affected by this,” said Sinclair.
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