About the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (IRSAS)
The Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (IRSAS) is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal that was established under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) in 2007. IRSAS manages the Independent Assessment Process (IAP).
The Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (IRSAS)
IRSAS is an arms-length, independent organization that is responsible for supporting the Chief Adjudicator in the implementation and administration of the Independent Assessment Process (IAP).
The Executive Director of the Secretariat has a dual reporting relationship to both the Chief Adjudicator (on mandate matters) and to the Deputy Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (on financial and resource management). The Secretariat is responsible for supporting the Chief Adjudicator in the implementation of the IAP.
Staff at the Secretariat:
- receive IAP claims
- assess claims to determine if they are eligible for the process
- work with claimants and their lawyers to prepare claims for a hearing
- provide support to claimants who choose to represent themselves instead of hiring a lawyer
- schedule hearings for claimants
- make travel and accommodations arrangements for claimants
- manage Group IAP, a program that supports healing and reconciliation for claimants.
There are approximately 175 employees at the Secretariat, under the leadership of an Executive Director who reports to the Chief Adjudicator. The Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat has offices in Regina SK (head office), Gatineau QC, and Vancouver BC.
IRSAS is a sunset organization; it will wind down and cease to exist after the IAP is complete (projected for 2020).
The Chief Adjudicator
The Chief Adjudicator of the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) is an independent, court-appointed official who directs the work of the Adjudication Secretariat, the administrative body that manages the IAP hearing process.
The Chief Adjudicator (CA) reports directly to the Courts that supervise the Settlement Agreement. The CA is retained on contract to ensure independence and an arms-length relationship exists between the CA and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).
Independence of the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat
Justice Perell of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, in a decision on August 6, 2014 (section 44) reminded the parties to the Settlement Agreement that “The Secretariat is a branch of AANDC* which is a department of Canada. However, save for specific financial, funding, auditing and human resource matters, the Secretariat is under the direction of the Chief Adjudicator and independent from the AANDC. The Secretariat’s employees work in separate office space with separately keyed entrances. The Secretariat does utilize AANDC’s electronic records system, but it maintains separate paper files from AANDC.”
*Note: AANDC is now known as INAC, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
The Independent Assessment Process
The Independent Assessment Process was established to resolve claims of emotional, physical or sexual abuse suffered by former students of Indian Residential Schools. It provides them with a way to settle their claim more quickly, out of court. It is an adjudication process.
The IAP is a claimant centred process that is fair, impartial and non-adversarial. Hearings are held in a private setting, not in a courtroom. Claimants can choose the location of their hearing and the gender of the adjudicator. Hearings are culturally appropriate and feature traditional and ceremonial elements such as smudges, songs and prayers, depending on the claimant’s preference. Claimants are supported at hearings by elders, family members, friends, resolution health support workers and interpreters.
The IAP is part of the Settlement Agreement – the largest class action settlement in Canadian history. The agreement aims to bring a fair and lasting resolution to the harm caused by residential schools. It involved representatives of Indigenous groups, churches, the Government of Canada, and the legal profession. It was approved by the courts. The IAP replaced the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) model.
For a full description of the Independent Assessment Process, click here.
The deadline to submit an application under the Independent Assessment Process was September 19, 2012.