Publications | Independent Assessment Process (IAP) Fact Sheets

IAP and Self-Represented Claimants

The Independent Assessment Process (IAP) is a claimant-centered, non-adversarial, out-of-court process for the resolution of claims of sexual abuse, serious physical abuse, and other wrongful acts suffered at Indian Residential Schools. The IAP also supports healing and reconciliation among former students, their families, communities and Canadians.

The IAP is managed by the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (IRSAS or Secretariat), an administrative tribunal which replaces the traditional court process. The IAP and IRSAS were established under the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA). IRSAS operates independently from the groups (known as “Parties”) that signed the Agreement, including the Government of Canada.

The parties to the Settlement Agreement include (but are not limited to): the Government of Canada, former Indian Residential School students and their lawyers, the churches that administered the schools, and the Assembly of First Nations and Inuit representatives.

The IAP involves complex legal concepts and processes. This is why all of the Parties who signed the Settlement Agreement recommend that a claimant hire a lawyer to help them with their IAP claim.

Can a claimant choose to be self-represented for their IAP claim?

The decision to be self-represented or hire a lawyer is the claimant’s choice, and a self-represented claimant (SRC) can choose to hire a lawyer at any point during the process.

How does Client Services help a self-represented claimant?

The IRSAS helps self-represented claimants by assigning a Claimant Support Officer (CSO) to their claim. A CSO provides information, assistance, guidance and support to self-represented claimants.

How will a Claimant Support Officer help a claimant with their claim?

The CSO will:

  • Serve as a primary contact for them in the administration of the IAP in accordance with the Settlement Agreement.
  • Help the claimant work with other units in the Secretariat to prepare the claim for a hearing.
  • Ensure a claimant gets personalized support and that they are treated with respect and dignity throughout the process.
  • Help explain letters which are sent to the claimant.
  • Locate and collect all of the mandatory documents that will be needed to support an IAP claim.
  • Explain the role of each party in the IAP (act as a liaison between the claimant and the parties to the SA).
  • Help with expert referrals for medical, psychological or other assessments that may help to make the claim stronger.
  • Provide one-to-one support to guide a claimant through the IAP. This includes helping a claimant to prepare for their hearing and assisting them with the work that is required after a hearing is complete.

A CSO will also ensure that a SRC has access to health support services. For example, if emotional support is required a CSO will link the SRC with a Health Support Worker. Crisis counseling is available on a 24-hour basis by calling 1-866-925-4419.

Is having a Claimant Support Officer just like having a lawyer?

No, there are several important things a CSO cannot do when a claimant is self-represented. For example:

  • CSO cannot provide legal advice. The CSO can only provide information about the IAP.
  • CSO cannot advise a claimant about which of the three approaches (Standard, Complex or Court Track) is best for dealing with a claim. A lawyer would be able to help with this.
  • CSO cannot enter into negotiations with Canada to settle a claim before the hearing is held.
  • CSO will not attend the hearing, or provide. A lawyer would attend the hearing and be in a position to provide both these things.

The decision to be self-represented or to hire a lawyer is the claimants choice. Keep in mind, however, that the IAP involves complex legal concepts and processes. This is why all of the Parties who signed the Settlement Agreement recommend hiring a lawyer to help with an IAP claim.

If a claimant determines that they want a lawyer to help with their IAP claim, their CSO can help find one who has experience in the IAP. A claimant can also call the IAP Information Line at

1-877-635-2648 for help in finding a lawyer.

March 2014