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Chief Adjudicator calls for destruction of IAP records

June 19, 2014

Edmonton, June 19, 2014 – Dan Shapiro, the Chief Adjudicator of the Independent Assessment Process (IAP), has called for the destruction of all records related to claims of abuse suffered by students at the Indian Residential Schools.

Speaking at a conference of privacy and access experts, Shapiro unveiled the position that he will present to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice at a hearing in July when the Court hears legal arguments on the disposition of IAP records.

“In the IAP, promises of confidentiality were properly made to claimants,” Shapiro told delegates at the 2014 Access and Privacy Conference. “These promises must be kept. After careful analysis and reflection, I have come to the realisation that the only way that the confidentiality of participants can be respected and their dignity preserved is through the destruction of all IAP records after the conclusion of the compensation process”

The Independent Assessment Process was established under the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the largest class action settlement in Canadian history. The IAP was set up to compensate former students who suffered sexual, physical or emotional abuse at Indian Residential Schools.

In order to prove their claims, former students must provide details of the abuse they suffered in residential schools, along with dozens of personal documents and records to support their claims. The Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (IRSAS), which manages the IAP, has amassed a collection of about 800,000 documents related to the nearly 38,000 applications it has received. They include application forms, transcripts and audio recordings of hearings, and decisions, along with tens of thousands of medical, education, employment, corrections and other personal records submitted by claimants.

“These records, including the medical, educational, and financial records of survivors, should not be given a longer life and broader exposure simply because they relate to someone who was abused at a residential school,” said Shapiro.

Shapiro will also ask the Court to order that all copies of the records held by parties, including the government and the churches, can only be used in the IAP, and may not be published or distributed or archived with anyone.

The Court will consider a range of disposition options when it hears arguments on the fate of IAP records in Toronto on July 14-16. Claimants have been vocal in arguing that their accounts of abuse, and the personal records that support their applications, should not be preserved without their explicit consent. Many have said they would not have participated in the IAP if they knew their intimate and deeply personal accounts of abuse at residential schools might one day become public.

“The history and legacy of residential schools must never be forgotten,” said Shapiro. “But the price of remembering must not be a betrayal of those who were abused as children in those schools.”

“That is what I am fighting for -- to preserve the agreement the Parties made, to protect the privacy of survivors and witnesses, and to promote the reconciliation and healing that has been so very long in the making,” he said.

As of May 31, 2014, IRSAS had received 37,879 applications for compensation under the IAP. Of these, 27,941 cases have been resolved and more than $2.4 billion has been paid out in compensation by the Government of Canada. The last hearings under the IAP are expected to take place in the spring of 2016, with post-hearing work finalized by spring 2018.

Contact:

Michael Tansey
Senior Communications Officer,
Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat
(819) 934-1444
(613) 851-4587 (cell)
Michael.Tansey@irsad-sapi.gc.ca
Michael@tancom.ca
@IRSASInfo
www.iap-pei.ca

Click here to view a copy of the speech.