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The Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat’s Independent Assessment Process (IAP) Outreach Activity Report Raising Awareness About the IAP and the IAP Application Deadline

Summary

This report addresses the ways in which former students of Indian Residential Schools have been informed of the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) and the application deadline.

The following outreach and communications activities have been undertaken:

  • A four-phase Court-approved Notice Plan, implemented in 2006, 2007, 2011, and 2012. The Notice Plan involved advertising in Aboriginal and mainstream print, television, and radio media, a poster campaign, internet advertising, and direct mail to former students of residential schools. Communications were produced in English, French, and a number of aboriginal languages and dialects. The four phases of the Notice Plan were determined to have reached 98% of the target population an average of 14 times.
  • The Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (IRSAS) developed and implemented a National Outreach Strategy. By the application deadline, IRSAS staff will have personally held nearly 350 information sessions in aboriginal communities, correctional facilities, friendship centres, and homeless shelters.
  • IRSAS has staffed information booths and provided individual information sessions at all TRC National events; other TRC activities; AFN conferences, seminars, and assemblies; and other gatherings such as pow-wows.
  • IRSAS has distributed more than 10,600 IAP information kits.
  • An IAP web site providing access to both plain-language and detailed information on the application and hearing process was mounted, as was a toll-free telephone information line. To date, the information line has received a total of some 27,500 calls regarding the IAP. A toll-free 24-hour crisis and support line was also implemented through Health Canada.
  • Over the past year and a half, IRSAS has responded to more than 40 media inquiries and provided more than two dozen media interviews on the IAP.
  • IRSAS produced Public Service Announcements in English, French, Cree, and Inuktitut, and distributed these to Aboriginal community radio stations.
  • Starting in 2007, the Government of Canada has provided $26 million in funding through the Advocacy and Public Information Program (APIP). APIP-funded projects have contributed directly to ensuring that Aboriginal communities are aware of all aspects of the Settlement Agreement, including the IAP.
  • Health Canada has conducted, on their own and in collaboration with IRSAS, more than two dozen information sessions on the IAP with community support and front-line workers, former students, and other Aboriginal community members,. Health Canada has also distributed more than 420,000 brochures on their IAP support services.

Objective of Report

The Independent Assessment Process (IAP) Outreach Activity report focuses the ways in which former students of Indian Residential Schools have been informed of the IAP, a component of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, and of the application deadline of September 19, 2012.

Raising Awareness of the IAP

The Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (IRSAS or the Secretariat) is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal providing impartial application processing and decision-making for claims of abuse at federally-administered Indian Residential Schools. IRSAS supports and reports to the Chief Adjudicator who was appointed by the IAP Oversight Committee and confirmed by the courts.

Within the Secretariat, the Client Services Outreach Unit is responsible for improving awareness of the IAP.

Notice Plan

In 2006, the Government of Canada funded a Court approved Notice Plan, aimed at reaching and informing former students of the residential school system and their family members who may have had rights under the Settlement Agreement. The Notice Plan was designed and implemented by Hilsoft Notifications, in four phases extending from 2006 to 2012.

Phase I: The “Hearing Notice” phase of the Notice Plan was launched on June 22, 2006. This provided notice to affected people residing on reserve, within another Aboriginal community or settlement, or within the general population. The launch included both regional radio and television advertisements. As well, direct mailings were made to Band Offices, Tribal Council Offices, and Friendship Centres. In addition, Phase I included the creation of a public website and toll-free information line.

Phase II: The “Opt Out/Claims Notice” commenced on March 22, 2007 and was more extensive than Phase I, to ensure as many former students as possible were notified prior to the closure of the opt-out period (August 20, 2007). During Phase II, more detailed information was distributed on the Settlement Agreement and the IAP process.

Phase III: From March to May 2011, the Government of Canada implemented the “CEP Application Deadline Notice”. This focused on the September 19, 2011, Common Experience Payment (CEP) application deadline. This Notice Plan reached Aboriginal print media, television, and radio, with additional broad mainstream television and print coverage. During Phase III, the IAP process was also addressed, directing potential applicants and their families to the toll-free number and the settlement website to access more detailed information.

Phase IV: The “IAP Application Deadline Notice” occurred between March and June 2012. Its objective was to ensure that former students and other interested persons were aware of the September 19, 2012, IAP deadline. Potential IAP applicants were advised to call the toll-free number, access the IAP website, or visit a Service Canada Centre to learn about their rights, potential benefits, and application requirements.

The IAP Application Deadline Notice was mailed in English and in French with a cover letter to known CEP applicants as well as other interested persons who had not yet filed an IAP application. In accordance to the Privacy Act, names and addresses were provided by Service Canada and/or AANDC in coordination with Crawford Class Action Services, who provided print and mailing services. The mailing list was compiled from multiple data sets (Phase I and II mailing lists, CEP applicants, those that have contacted AANDC previously regarding IAP, etc.).

Phase IV also used a variety of media vehicles to build exposure among Aboriginal people, including: Aboriginal and mainstream publications, radio, and television; Internet banner advertising; outdoor transit shelter notices; and Homeless Shelter outreach.

As with the previous efforts, Phase IV notice communications were produced in multiple languages appropriate to each media vehicle, including: English, French, Inuktitut, Innuinaqtun, Siglit, Oji-Cree, Déné (various dialects, such as Gwich’in and Dogrib), Ojibway, Innu, and Atikamekw.

Together the four phases of the Notice Plan reached 98% of the target population an average of 14 times.

IAP National Outreach Strategy

In addition to the Notice Plan, IRSAS has developed its own National Outreach Strategy with a primary goal of visiting communities in order to provide accurate, relevant information on the IAP, and to raise awareness of available support services and of the application deadline. In this way, IRSAS has been able to communicate personally to a wide spectrum of residential school survivors, their families, and their communities. Our presence in communities has also allowed IRSAS staff to encourage former students to obtain qualified legal representation, and to gather survivors’ perspectives on the IAP.

The Secretariat’s National Outreach Strategy has placed an emphasis on communities where a significant gap existed between the number of CEP recipients and the number of IAP claims. As well, the strategy has reached out to populations with limited access to information and support, such as those in correctional and care facilities.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to deliver outreach sessions in all communities where a large gap exists between CEP and IAP applicants. As a result, the following criteria have been used to prioritize IAP session locations: (1) Communities where there have been over 200 CEP applicants with fewer than 10% claimants applying to the IAP; and (2) Communities where there has been less than 1% uptake. This approach led to a primary focus on Saskatchewan, Québec, and the North.

Prior to their arrival in each community, outreach representatives arranged for the availability of support services, such as interpreter/translators, Elders, Cultural Support Workers, and Regional Health Support Workers. During outreach sessions, IRSAS provided a multilingual PowerPoint presentation, and made printed, translated copies of the presentation available to session participants and to other interested community representatives. The presentation was available in English, French, Inuktitut (Baffin and Kivilliq regions), Nunavik, Ojibway, Dene dialects (South Slavey, North Slavey, Chipewyan, Tlicho (Dogrib)), and Innuinaqtun.

To date, IRSAS has provided 314 IAP information sessions, as indicated below. In addition to sessions held within Aboriginal communities, IRSAS has reached out to in-care facilities such as correctional facilities (federal and provincial), friendship centres, elder centres, and homeless shelters).

Province/Territory 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013 Total
Manitoba 2 1 8 18 3 32
Alberta 4 3 3 13 4 27
British Columbia 2 3 21 6 32
New Brunswick 5 1 5 11
Northwest Territories 1 12 4 2 19
Nova Scotia 1 4 3 8
Nunavut 11 15 26
Ontario 16 2 11 26 8 63
Québec 12 16 10 38
Saskatchewan 2 2 7 44 1 56
Yukon 1 1
Grand Total 30 12 61 161 50 314

During this time, IRSAS has also maintained a presence at many conferences, workshops, meetings, general assemblies, TRC events, and pow-wows in order to reach out to even more residential school survivors and their families. Through all of these venues, IRSAS has to date distributed more than 10,600 IAP information kits.

The following graph illustrates the IAP Outreach activities by categories per province and territory:

Type of Outreach Activity by Province - 2008 to present

Table of outreach sessions

*Forum includes: Managing an IAP Information Booth at trade shows such as AFN AGA, meetings, conferences, national gatherings, Aboriginal festivals/Pow Wows etc.

Province/Territory Community Correctional Facility Drop-in-Center Forum Friendship Centre
Manitoba 18 3 0 7 4
Alberta 13 1 0 7 6
British Columbia 8 9 0 7 8
New Brunswick 7 0 0 2 2
Northwest Territories 14 2 0 2 1
Nova Scotia 8 0 0 0 0
Nunavut 25 1 0 0 0
Ontario 22 5 2 11 23
Québec 29 3 0 5 1
Saskatchewan 35 9 0 6 6
Yukon 1 0 0 1 0

IRSAS Communications

In addition to the outreach activities discussed above, IRSAS has utilized a number of communication activities in order to raise awareness of and distribute information about the IAP. These have included:

  • A revitalized website featuring content written in plain language.
  • Public Service Announcements produced in four languages (English, French, Cree, and Inuktitut) and distributed to Aboriginal community radio stations across Canada and available on the IRSAS website
  • Responses to 43 media inquiries since April 2011, and 26 media interviews by IRSAS spokespeople. In addition, communications staff has responded to 70 phone and e-mail inquiries from the general public.

Advocacy and Public Information Program

The Advocacy and Public Information Program is a contribution funding program managed by AANDC to encourage the sharing of information and ensure that the Aboriginal community, particularly former students and their families, are aware of all aspects of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, including CEP and IAP. Other objectives include supporting healing and reconciliation, with a particular focus on youth and intergenerational issues. From 2007-2013, over $26 million has been invested into 138 regional and national projects across Canada.This year, the objectives have expanded to include education, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth forums, support for healing and reconciliation with a particular focus on youth and inter-generational former students, and promoting a better understanding of the impacts of the legacy of Indian residential schools. The 2012-2013 projects will also use their existing networks to inform former students of the IAP application deadline.

Health Canada

Health Canada, in partnership with AANDC, provides cultural support, emotional support, and professional counselling services to former IRS students and their families through the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program (IRSRHSP). Emotional support services are provided by individual Resolution Health Support Workers (RHSWs) contracted by Aboriginal or affiliated organizations and funded by First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. Health Canada has been and continues to be an integral partner in providing emotional health and wellness support services at a majority of our IAP information sessions.

Health Canada has also played an important role in increasing awareness of the IAP and the resolution health support. Since 2007, more than 420,000 brochures describing the Health Canada program have been sent directly to former students, band offices, community health centres, friendship centres, nursing stations, treatment centres, and many other meeting places across the country. IRSAS and Health Canada have also collaborated in providing more than two dozen information and/or IAP training sessions to community support workers, front line workers, community members, elders, and former IRS students in a wide range of locations across Canada.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)

During its tenure, the TRC will be hosting seven national events in different regions across Canada. The national events aim to engage the Canadian public and provide education about the history of the residential schools system, the experience of former students and their families and the ongoing legacies of the institutions within communities. Staff from across the Secretariat have participated in the first four TRC National Events held in Winnipeg (June 2010), Inuvik (June 2011), Halifax (October 2011) and Saskatoon (June 2012), as well as TRC regional events.

Participation at TRC events has allowed IRSAS staff to provide private one-on-one sessions with actual or potential claimants. This has enabled individuals to obtain information about the IAP process or about their own claim that they may not otherwise be comfortable discussing in larger group sessions.

The future of building awareness of the IAP

It is projected that IRSAS will provide another 30 IAP sessions before the application deadline. In addition, IRSAS is continuing to reach out to residential school survivors who are homeless and/or incarcerated or otherwise in care.